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14 April 2015, 10:52
A County Durham man has been jailed after raping a women he befriended on Facebook in her own home.
Edward Whitfield pulled his victim into her bathroom, pinned her against a wall and carried out his attack within an hour of meeting her face-to-face for the first time.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the victim made it clear before the 36-year-old visited her there was no more on offer than coffee.
Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said a mutual friend had put Whitfield in touch with the victim.
They exchanged mobile numbers on Facebook and began texting each other.
Although messages became mutually flirtatious, the victim reminded him they were just friends as they both had partners.
The court heard how when Whitfield pressed her for address she said he was welcome for a cup of coffee but no more.
Whitfield travelled from his home in Weardale to her home in east Durham on June 10, 2013.
As she made coffee he touched her leg and when told "no stop it" he apologised.
While sitting opposite her talking to her he texted a sexually explicit message and then went upstairs asking where her bedroom was.
When she followed to stop him he pulled her into the bathroom closed the door and carried out the attack as the victim "froze in fear".
Whitfield then apologised and tried to cuddle the distressed woman before leaving and texting: "God I am so sorry".
When arrested the father-of-three categorically denied any sex activity has taken place.
Jonathan Devlin, defending, said Whitfield had no previous convictions and had worked throughout his life.
Whitfield of The Crofts, Wolsingham, admitted rape as well as two counts of sexual assault on the day a trial was due to begin at Durham Crown Court.
Mr Devlin argued the victim had thus been spared to ordeal of having to testify.
Judge Robert Adams told Whitfield:
"The aggravating features are these offences were committed in her own home and she was compelled by your actions to leave her home."
It has clearly had a massive effect upon her life. She suffers panic and anxiety attacks and sits indoors terrified because of what happened to her."
Judge Adams sentenced Whitfield to five years and seven months in prison.
He was also ordered to sign the the sex offenders' register on his release and made the subject of a lifetime restraining order preventing him from making any contact with the victim.