Cirencester man Michael Hughes, 23, accused of raping friend

First published in News by

A CIRENCESTER man stood trial this week accused of raping a lesbian friend who he refers to as his "little sister".

Best man Michael Hughes, 23, of Bowling Green Crescent, allegedly pounced after luring the woman to his hotel room last March during a wedding reception.

The woman claimed she followed Hughes to his room at the luxurious Clearwell Castle hotel in the Forest of Dean on the pretence that she was just going to have a look around as she could not afford a room.

The jury at Gloucester Crown Court listened as the 23-year-old described how events unravelled. She said: "I saw Michael and we had a hug. I said I couldn't afford to stay at the hotel and he told me that the room was lush.

"He said come and look at the room so I went up with him. I was walking around the room and sat on the bed. He pushed me back and I said 'stop it Michael, this isn't you'. It was the last thing I'd expect to happen - he's like my best friend.

"I would never have gone up there if I thought he liked me."

CCTV footage from the hotel shows the pair leave the smoking area and head to Hughes' room. Just over 20 minutes later cameras capture the woman leaving the hotel at speed.

Sarah Regan, for the prosecution, told the court that the woman was openly gay and was in a relationship with another woman at the time of the alleged assault. "He knew of her relationship so she had no concerns of following him to his room."

The woman said she had no reason to suspect Hughes would carry out such an attack as they were close and he would often refer to her as his little sister.

She added: "If I was going to cheat on my girlfriend, who I absolutely adored and worshipped the ground she walked on, I definitely wouldn't do it with a man."

But defence counsel Christopher Phillips put it to her that there had previously been flirting between the pair and that on one occasion she had touched Hughes "intimately".

He suggested to her that she made up the rape allegation as an excuse to her girlfriend for sleeping with the accused.

He said Hughes thought the woman was bisexual and maintained that what took place was consensual.

Mr Phillips then pointed to further CCTV footage that appeared to show the woman had a hole or ladder in the back of her tights prior to the alleged rape. Yet, he said, she had told police her tights were torn when Hughes pulled them off during the attack.

The woman said that one of the pairs of tights she was wearing was 'shimmering' and the image could instead be a reflection of the light.

Mr Phillips questioned her about why she did not resist more to prevent Hughes from raping her.

She said: "I thought if I had a friendly approach to it I could stop it. It was one of those situations where you can't get angry or it could get worse."

The trial continues tomorrow.

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