A WOMAN who was lured into the woods and raped by her date and his friend at the age of 13 has slammed the court for their short sentences.
Claudia Barber, 21, was attacked by Brandon Bowmaker, 23, along with Callum Dowson, 24, in 2012.
But they’ve only been sentenced to four years in prison each after they were found guilty of rape last year.
Bank worker Claudia has decided to waive her right to anonymity to speak out and encourage survivors of rape to come forward.
She said: “The attack really affected my life.
“But I’m taking back control. I’m glad they’re behind bars, although I don’t think the sentence was long enough.
“I want survivors of sexual crimes to know they’re not alone and to seek justice like I did.”
‘KEEN TO IMPRESS’
As a 13-year-old Claudia suffered from low self-esteem as her classmates teased her about her weight.
She met Brandon, then 15, on a double date.
Claudia said: “When Brandon showed me interest, I felt really flattered.
“We had sex that day as I was keen to impress.”
But when they planned to meet up three weeks later, Bowmaker brought along his friend Callum Dawson.
The pair led her through a residential area and into a thick woodland.
There Bowmaker told Claudia: “Have sex with us or we’ll leave you here.”
This time, I realised that he wasn’t joking. Suddenly he was on top of me, pinning me to the ground
But she refused and walked away from them.
Claudia said: “I was stunned. Then Brandon burst out laughing and said he was only joking.”
But later he made the same threat again.
She said: “This time, I realised that he wasn’t joking. Suddenly he was on top of me, pinning me to the ground.
“He ripped my shorts down and raped me. He told me to act like I was enjoying it.
“I hoped Callum would help me but he had his hand down his tracksuit bottoms.
“Afterwards, before I had a chance to get to my feet, Callum was on top of me. They took it in turns raping me, several times.
“Then they left me on the ground, covered in dirt and ran off.
“I put my clothes back on and followed the street lights until I reached the road.”
BROUGHT BACK OLD MEMORIES
She went home and cried, unable to tell her father Richard, a 52-year-old bricklayer, about what had happened.
Two years later Bowmaker messaged Claudia on Facebook asking if she would have sex with him and a friend.
She ignored the message and blocked him.
In September 2015 she saw him again and it brought back terrible memories.
She said: “I told my dad that I’d been raped. Dad wanted to call the police, but I felt too frightened, so he didn’t.”
Then Claudia met her now husband Kyle Barber, 31, and she confided in him about the attack.
Claudia explained: “He told me to go to the police, but I was worried they wouldn’t believe me”.
Eventually Kyle convinced her to report them to the police.
She made a statement and they were arrested.
In August 2018, Brandon Bowmaker, of Woodhouse Road, and Callum Dowson, of Venables Road, both from Guisborough, North Yorkshire, denied rape at Teesside Crown Court.
They both claimed the sex was consensual.
Claudia said: “Brandon admitted lying to the police by telling them he didn’t know me. So I gave evidence from behind a screen.
“Thankfully the jury found them both guilty. I almost cried with relief.”
Both men were sentenced to four years in jail.
Judge Sean Morris, sentencing, said: “This has probably been one of the most difficult cases I have dealt with in 10 years sitting as a circuit judge.”
Addressing the defendants, he said: “You are men now. All three of you as the pre-sentence report describes, were children.”