October 2017

Vulnerable student woke up to vile rapist attacking her after falling asleep at friend’s flat

A vulnerable student woke up to find a stranger raping her.

Robert Welham, 26, met the victim through mutual friends she was out with in Beverley, Hull, and was heard to comment she had a “nice a**e” after they left a pub.

A friend told him to “cut the s**t” because she was “too young”. He later raped her while she was asleep at a friend’s flat.

When the victim woke and realised what was happening, she pushed Welham off.

He then sexually assaulted her “for about ten minutes”.

Welham – who has since got married – told police they had consensual sex after his crimes were reported.

But a jury did not believe him and convicted him of rape and a sexual assault after a trial at Hull Crown Court.

Welham, of Hambling Drive, Beverley, cried as he was led away to the cells after being jailed for six years by Judge Simon Jack.

He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

In a victim statement read to the court after his conviction by prosecutor Julia Baggs, the woman said she was already “quite an anxious person” before the attack, but now struggled to sleep and had regular nightmares.

She also has “severe panic attacks” and is nervous around strangers.

She revealed she initially did not want her father to know what had happened because she was “embarrassed” by it.

“I think my dad found it hard to accept, think about it or talk about it,” she said.

The victim also said she resented the rapist for forcing her to relive the ordeal by denying his guilt and having a trial.

She said: “I’m angry he did what he did and made me and other witnesses go through a long and upsetting process.”

Philip Standfast, who prosecuted the case, had told the jury the victim had drunk four or five vodka and cokes, but was not as drunk as other members of the group and “still knew what she was doing”.

He said: “During the course of the evening she spoke with the defendant but only like a friend to ask whether he had a job and things of that sort.

“She does not recall that he was trying to chat her up or give her the impression that he liked her in that sort of way.”

Jailing Welham, Judge Jack told him: “Offences of rape in particular are always very serious because of the effect that they have on people, and we have heard the victim impact statement read out.

“The level of seriousness is reflected in the sentencing guidelines, and it’s because of the very serious view society takes of these offences that the starting point for what might be described as the lowest level of rape is five years imprisonment.

“In this case it’s not the simplest offence of rape because there are two features which push it upwards in the sentencing guidelines.

“One is the fact your victim was particularly vulnerable due to her personal circumstances.

“She was suffering from depression, receiving medication and undergoing counselling before all this happened.

“She was particularly anxious to make friends and please people because of the difficulties she had had.

“That all went badly wrong because of what you did that night. Secondly, this was denied.”

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