Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Dog walker found man lying on ground, Carlisle sex and kidnap trial told

A dog walker has told a court how he became concerned after seeing a man lying on the ground near his home.

Related: Cumbrian man 'kidnapped and dragged into bushes for sex'

Stuart McDermott said that he stopped and asked if everything was okay when he saw the man at about 11pm on July 23 last year in Stanwix, Carlisle.

He was giving evidence at Carlisle Crown Court in the trial of Christopher Higgins, 24, who is accused of four charges – one of kidnap, one of kidnap with intent to commit a sexual offence and two charges of causing a person to engage in sex without consent.

He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.

Mr McDermott said: “My dog started barking and while I was telling him to be quiet I saw a bike on the floor. I then saw an image of a person lying on the ground. I asked if he was alright and he said he was helping a friend.

“I asked again if he was sure that everything was okay as I thought maybe someone had fallen off their bike. I walked on towards Clarks Field and I sensed that something wasn’t quite right so I went back up the lane.

“I saw two men walking out of the lane onto York Road. One of them was riding a bike. The other one was walking.”

When asked to give a description of the men, Mr McDermott said one of them had fair hair and was wearing dark clothing, the other man was slighter and was carrying a satchel.

On Wednesday, a man in his twenties told the court how he was followed, dragged into bushes by Higgins, a fairground worker, and twice forced to perform a sex act on himself. The victim, in his twenties, said he was also threatened and told he would be “stabbed” if he didn’t do as he was told.

He said Higgins told him he would “hunt him down” and “kill him” if he told anyone about the incident.

The pair went their separate ways and on arrival at his place of work, the victim told his boss what had happened. His boss called the police.

Higgins, of Oaklands Drive, Currock,was arrested by police on August 5 last year at a fairground in Seahouses, Northumberland.

Detective Constable Mark Singleton told the court that he had gone to Seahouses to find Higgins with two of his colleagues.

He said: “When we arrived at the fair I spoke to the owner, Mr Slater. I asked if Christopher Higgins was employed at the fair and he shouted out in a loud voice that there was no Chris Higgins working there.

“He eventually changed his mind and said Chris did work for him and he pointed to a caravan about 40 yards away. There was no one in that caravan but a man was seen to be dressing in a smaller caravan next door. That man then began moving away from the smaller caravan and DS Yallop, who I was with, shouted for me to approach him. I recognised him from the CCTV images and asked if he was Chris and then I explained what I was arresting him on suspicion of.

“We carried out a brief search of his caravan and Chris asked when the incident was supposed to have happened. I said July 23 and he said he was on the fair at that time. A lady nearby, who I believe is Mr Slater’s wife, said he started with the fair on July 26.”

The trial continues.


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