Royal Agricultural Uni four appear in court charged with rape

Their trial starts tomorrow

Four students at Britain’s most prestigious agricultural university appeared in court today, accused of raping a woman at their summer ball.

Thady Duff, 22, Leo Mahon, 23, Patrick Foster, 22, and James Martin, 20, deny rape, sexual assault and assault by penetration on May 24 2014.

The four are students at the world-renowned Royal Agricultural University in the Cotswolds, dubbed the ‘Oxbridge of the countryside’.

From left to right: James Martin, Patrick Foster, Thady Duff and Leo Mahan

From left to right: James Martin, Patrick Foster, Thady Duff and Leo Mahan

Duff faces three counts of rape while Mahon is charged with three counts of rape and two counts of assault by penetration.

Foster faces one count of rape and two of assault by penetration and Martin is charged with one rape.

Duff is also accused of a further sexual assault involving the same woman, which allegedly took place in October 2013.

They appeared in the dock at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday today dressed in suits and ties.

A jury was sworn in and their trial, which is scheduled to last for four weeks, is due to begin tomorrow.

The jury was told the case would involve watching short but explicit pornographic videos that were filmed during the alleged offences.

One woman on the jury panel at Gloucester Crown Court asked to be excused. She was allowed to leave the jury box and another woman from the panel took her place.

The six men and six women jurors then took their oaths to try the case.

Prince Charles, whose Highgrove home is around 12 miles from the RAU, has been President of the university since 1982 and presented degrees to this year’s graduates.

Around 1,200 students attend the RAU, which became the first agricultural college in the English-speaking world in 1845 when it was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria.

The university's 25-acre campus close to Cirencester

The university’s 25-acre campus close to Cirencester

The university provides more than 30 land-based undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses for students from almost 50 countries worldwide.

It was founded in 1845 and is ranked by the influential Complete University Guide as the fifth safest in the UK.

Since 2008, it has seen a 49 per cent rise in applications and is ranked top in the UK for investing in campus facilities.