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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 16:59 GMT
Teenage rapists trapped by boasts
Claire Marsh
A detective said Marsh may have been "showing off"
The teenage gang who raped a 37-year-old woman on a London canal towpath may never have been caught but for their need to brag about their actions.

Officers investigating the case said the apparent lack of concern for what they had done may well have been the downfall of the gang.

At London's Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday, Claire Marsh, 18, of Margate, Kent, was found guilty of rape for her part in the July 2000 attack.

She will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on 8 May, along with Marvin Edwards, 18, of Brentford, west London, and a 15-year-old, who admitted rape at the beginning of the two-and-a-half week trial.


What was going on in their minds that night, goodness knows

Police officer
When the gang's victim first approached police to tell them she had been repeatedly raped, they were worried she would be unable to give them a detailed description of those involved.

The woman said she had been "tipsy" at the time of the attack, and that, apart from the fact that the two men who raped her were black, and that she had heard girls "egging them on", she could remember little else.

But it was not too long before information began to filter through to police - the result of the teenagers' inability to resist bragging about their actions.

"They were telling everyone around," one of the officers involved said.

Just hours after the attack reached the media, members of the public were contacting police to tell them what they had heard.

Break-in

An appeal on ITV's Crimestoppers programme brought more calls, and increasingly the leads were pointing to a gang of white, black and mixed-race youngsters with a reputation for anti-social behaviour.

All 14 members of the gang were detained, but apart from two of those later charged with rape, none of them had previous convictions.

It soon emerged that several of them, including Marsh, had been arrested just hours after the attack for an alleged break-in at an off-licence. That case never got to court.

Officers were struck by how unconcerned the gang members seemed to be about what had happened to the victim.

One officer said: "What was going on in their minds that night, goodness knows."

The officer said Marsh seemed "disinterested".

"Pack mentality"

"You could have been dealing with her for shoplifting. She certainly didn't seem sorry about what happened.

"I think that reflects the attitude of all those who were arrested. They just didn't see the severity of it."

The officer said it was unclear if the gang had had a "ringleader", but it was more likely they simply developed what was described in court as a "pack mentality".

Marsh, described by the officer as "intelligent", was probably only there because she was going out with a member of the gang.

The officer said: "She had only been hanging around with the group for a couple of months. Perhaps she was 'showing off'."

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