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Child sex killer accused of handcuffing and violently raping Sheffield woman 46 years ago

Leeds Crown Court.
Leeds Crown Court.

A convicted child sex killer has gone on trial accused of violently raping an 18-year-old woman almost 46 years ago.

Peter Pickering, aged 80, is accused of handcuffing his victim before subjecting her to a violent sex assault in the back of his van after she accepted a lift to work.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard Pickering then lit a cigarette which he used to inflict burn injuries to her arms and breasts.

Michelle Colborne, QC, said the attack happened in Sheffield in June 1972, around three to four weeks before he raped and killed 14-year-old Shirley Boldy.

The schoolgirl was returning home from Wombwell High School, in Barnsley, when Pickering bundled her into the back of his van.

She was raped before he then strangled and stabbed her to death.

The jury was told Pickering is the subject of a hospital order after pleading guilty to the manslaughter and rape of Shirley Boldy on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Miss Colbourne said the alleged false imprisonment and rape offences did not come to light until recently when police were looking through Pickering's medical notes.

The medical notes contained disclosures made by Pickering to psychiatrists.

As a result of the disclosures police were able to trace the woman.

The court heard an officer from South Yorkshrie Police contacted her and she said: "Is it about Peter?"

Miss Colbourne said: "That was the first time since 1972 she had uttered his name."

Jurors were told the 18-year-old accepted the offer of a lift from Pickering as she walked to work

He then drove her to a secluded location before forcing her into the back of the van and carrying out the sex attack.

Miss Colbourne said: "The defendant told (the complainant) that he was going to have to kill her.

"Notwithstanding that she had the good sense and wit to try to distract him.

"She reassured him that she would not tell anyone.

"She continued to reassure him and his mood became relaxed."

The prosecutor said Pickering dropped the teenager off at home.

She added: "(The complainant) never told anyone in her family or friendship group what had occurred."

The court heard new evidence came to light recently when police discovered diaries and letters written by Pickering when they search a lock-up garage in Sheffield.

Miss Colbourne said that during the 1970s Pickering kept diaries and wrote regular notes in exercise books.

She said police found extracts which support the prosecution's case that Pickering had a desire to commit violent sexual offences against young girls.

One entry in an exercise book, dated October 27, 1970, read: "Well we'll wait till 1972 gets here.

"Sex in predominant in my mind - eclipsing all else.

"Maybe I will be a sex manic proper. Rape, torture, kill."

Jurors were told Pickering was interviewed and claims the teenager went willing with him in the van before consenting to sex.

Pickering appeared in court via a video link from Swindon Crown Court.

The jury was told Pickering had been detained in Thornford Park Hospital, Berkshire, for "a very long time."

He pleads not guilty to rape and false imprisonment.

The trial continues.