Sunderland rape accused tells jurors sexual encounter with party stranger was 'biggest mistake' of his life

Luke Richardson
Luke Richardson

A painter and decorator on trial for rape has told jurors a sexual encounter with a stranger at a party has turned out to be the "biggest mistake" of his life.

Prosecutors claim Luke Richardson sexually assaulted and then raped a woman who was "off her face" on drink and drugs at a house "session" in Sunderland in 2016.

But the 21-year-old has told jurors at Newcastle Crown Court the woman consented to what happened between them that night and that he even messaged her on social media the next morning to say "hello".

Richardson told jurors: "If I thought she was off her face I would never have talked to her or kissed her."

He told the court he had been intimate with the woman in the living room after she sat on his knee at the party and that they had gone to a bedroom together, hand in hand, and had sex.

It was months later he was arrested for rape and sexual assault.

Richardson, who became repeatedly, visibly emotional and upset in the witness box, told jurors: "It is an experience I regret now.

"For the two years ever since I got arrested it is the only thing I ever think about. It is the biggest mistake of my life."

Richardson, who has never been in trouble before, told jurors he had had drink and MDMA at the gathering that night but added: "I was still on control of myself."

He said the claim he had taken advantage of the woman's state was "not true" and added: "She had capacity, or I would never have touched her.

"She wasn't slurring her words or anything like that, otherwise I would never have gone anywhere near her."

Richardson said the woman never said "no" during their sexual encounter or gave him any indication there was anything wrong.

He told jurors he has relived what happened between him and the woman that night ever since he got arrested and added: "It is the last thing I think about when I go to bed and it is the first thing I think about when I wake up."

Richardson told jurors he had sent the woman a message via Facebook in the early morning after they had sex "to say hello" but got no reply and made no further attempt to contact her.

He added: "At the time, I didn't think anything of it until one day I got five policemen at my door."

He told jurors: "I wasn't expecting to be arrested for rape, I had never been in a police station before."

Jurors have heard the same woman was also raped that night by Georgi Karaboykov, 35, while in the "shocking state" that night, which he denies.

The men are on trial alongside Omar Sharif, 23, of Brunton Terrace, Sunderland, who is accused of being a serial sex attacker and drug dealer, which he denies.

It is claimed Sharif carried out his own sex attacks on victims but also arranged for vulnerable women to be available as "entertainment" at parties, for men who were clients of his drugs business.

Sharif denies sexual assault, four drugs supply offences and six charges of rape against three alleged victims, three offences of perverting the course of justice, one of attempting an offence under the proceeds of crime act and one of perjury.

Richardson, of Ponden Hill, Sunderland, and Karaboykov, of Horatio Street, Sunderland, both deny one offence sexual assault and one of rape.

Milagros Sanchez, of Chester Road, Sunderland, who held the party where the woman was allegedly raped by the two men, denies facilitating sexual exploitation.

Sharif's brother Amer Sharif, 20, of Brunton Terrace, Sunderland, denies an offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The Sunderland University student is accused of "badgering" a witness to make a false statement in a bid to get his sibling out of trouble.

He told jurors he did not know the statement was fake or that his brother was a drug dealer and added: "I had heard it in the community but I never believed them.

"When the police came to the house and I saw the drugs, I kind of got it then."

The trial continues.