Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Girl, 13, 'tipped into suicide'

Cherrell Ardle
Cherrell Ardle was found hanged at her home in December 2007

A 13-year-old girl who killed herself was "tipped over the edge" by an air cadet instructor who was having sex with her, a teenager has told a court.

The girl, 16, denied making up claims that Paul Nicholls, 39, of Rhondda, had sex with her and Cherrell Ardle, 13, who was found dead in 2007.

At Merthyr Crown Court, Mr Nicholls denies three counts of sexual activity with the older girl when she was 15.

He also denies a charge of attempting to have sex with the older girl.

Giving evidence via a video link, the girl told the court Cherrell had told her Mr Nicholls raped her.

"I think, personally, like everyone she had a hard time and he tipped her over the edge," the teenager, who cannot be named, said.

Asked by defence barrister Tracy Lloyd-Nesling if she thought Cherrell had been upset about anything else, the girl said "no".

She said: "She talked to me about suicide the last time I saw her before she did it.

Paul Nicholls
I was a 15-year-old child being raped by a man I saw as my father
Girl's evidence against Paul Nicholls, pictured

"She gave me a bracelet and told me I needed it to get me through."

After Cherrell died, the elder girl reported Mr Nicholls to police and said he had had sex with both of them.

Ms Lloyd-Nesling asked the girl if she was making up the allegations as "revenge" for what had happened to Cherrell.

The girl said: "I've not lied at all. I'm telling the truth.

"I was a 15-year-old child being raped by a man I saw as my father."

Describing her own first experience of sex with Mr Nicholls, she said: "I have never been so scared before. I remember him holding me down, I remember a lot of pain."

She said Mr Nicholls, of Pontygwaith, had sex with her "on many occasions".

The teenager added that Mr Nicholls would flirt with other girls, "feeling them and stuff".

"I want everyone to know the truth, I want everyone to know what he does," she said.

The court heard on Tuesday that police found several text messages from Mr Nicholls on both girls' phones.

'Clammed up'

The elder girl's uncle told the jury how his niece had changed after Cherrell died.

He said: "There was something odd about her, it was her mannerisms and the way she was looking.

"I asked her if something had happened at school but she said 'no'.

"Then I asked her if anyone had harmed her in any way but she just clammed up and started to cry.

"She's normally an outgoing girl, a typical teenager enjoying her homework.

"I asked her if it was a sexual thing and she made no reply. She just had her head down and nodded."

The trial continues.

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