THE trial of two teenagers accused of rape and other sexual offences in Oswestry will now be held in June next year.

Harley King and Ben Jennings, both 19, and from Newcastle and Cramlington, in Northumberland, respectively, were set to stand trial next week at Shrewsbury Crown Court.

King is accused of three offences – two charges of raping a woman aged 16 and over and one charge of voyeurism/recording a private act.

Meanwhile, Jennings faces four offences – three charges of rape of a woman aged 16 and over, and one charge of assault of a female aged 16 and over by penetration.

They both denied the charges which are alleged to have taken place in Oswestry in 2022.

But at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Tuesday, November 7, Elizabeth Muir – representing Jennings – told the court that she was unable to represent her client at trial next week because of conflicting diary commitments.

She told Judge Anthony Lowe that, despite the best efforts of her instructing solicitors in Newcastle and her own London-based chambers, a replacement barrister with the relevant experience could not be found at short notice.

Neither the prosecution or Mark Styles – representing King – opposed the application.

Judge Lowe, on agreeing to move the trial to June 10, 2024, said:  “There is no easy answer and someone will suffer because of this decision but I am satisfied that because there is a reduction in the number of people who can defend a case like this.

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“Balancing all of those competing factors, I am prepared to vacate the November 20 date and relist to June 10 2024.

“I extend my sympathy to the prosecution witnesses and the complainant.”

The trial will be held at Shrewsbury Crown Court on June 10 next year.