STUDENTS cleared of attacking two 15-year-old schoolgirls knelt in silent prayer and forgave the teenagers who cried rape.
Following a week long trial at Chester Crown Court, Simbarashe Makondore, of Raymond Street, Chester and Sipho Siyamufinya, of Great Houghton Road, Bradford, were found not guilty of the rape of two teenage girls during a gathering at a student flat in Chester last year.
Yesterday (Wednesday), the students cheered as they left the court before kneeling in silent prayer and forgiving the girls, saying they wanted to ‘forgive and forget’ the whole thing and get on with their lives.
Speaking moments after being cleared of the assault on October 22 last year, Makondore and Siyamufinya, both 22, said it wasn’t the girls’ faults and wished them the best for the future.
“We forgive the girls for what they have put us through,” said Makondore.
It took just over seven hours for the jury to find Makondore not guilty of two counts of raping a girl under 16 and one count of sexual assault on a female, and Siyamufinya not guilty of three counts of rape of a girl under 16.
During the trial, the court heard how on the afternoon of October 22 last year, the two teenagers were in Brook Street when they met Makondore and Siyamufinya before exchanging numbers and agreeing to meet them later that night for a ‘gathering’ at a student house in Cheyney Road.
But when they went to the flat the girls – who were both 15-years-old but told Makondore and Siyamufinya they were 16 – claimed they were taken into separate bedrooms by the men before being sexually assaulted and raped – then the men swapped over in the dark and raped them again.
Defending Makondore, Gareth Roberts said his client had simply been a student who had, with his friend, invited a couple of girls round for a party which had led to him having consensual sex with one of the girls before doing something else with her friend.
“He cannot say that he did not have sex with them because he did,” said Mr Roberts, who said during the trial that the girls had lied about their ages so the men would like them and be interested in them.
“But he cannot think of any reason why they are crying rape.”
And defending Siyamufinya, Owen Edwards described how his client was an ambitious young man, who had moved from Zimbabwe to the UK to join his parents when he was 17 years old before advancing himself in further education.
He had been visiting his friend Makondore for the half-term break when they met the two girls.
During the trial the defendants described how they had got on with the girls, who they had only met that day, and the teenagers had exchanged numerous texts, talking about staying the night before having sex with the men.
Later that night both of the teenagers hid in the bathroom crying, before reporting the men to the police for rape.