A FORMER Witney bus driver accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in the early 2000s told a jury they ‘were just friends’.

Peter Gibbs, 60, is on trial at Oxford Crown Court charged with three counts of historic child sex abuse which is alleged to have taken place in the early 2000s.

Gibbs, of Briary Lane, Carterton, has denied two counts of indecent assault, one on at least three occasions and the second on at least two occasions, and one count of rape of a girl under the age of 16.

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The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now an adult.

During the opening of the defence case on Thursday (March 14), Gibbs told the jury that he and the girl were ‘just friends’ and the relationship was ‘normal’.

He said: “We were just like friends. We spoke and that was it. It was just normal. I knew her for about six to eight months and that was it.

“I stopped talking to her and that was it.”

The jury heard that Gibbs visited the complainant's school following the alleged assault to speak to the deputy headteacher about a ‘rumour’ he had heard.

He said: “A couple of people said to me when on the bus that there were two girls talking, saying I had done stuff to the girl, and I wanted to put a stop to it.

“So I went up to the school and had a word with the head.”

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The court heard that Gibbs had been arrested in August 2001 after the alleged victim made a report, telling her GP she had been raped.

However, after two police interviews, the Crown Prosecution Service felt there was ‘no consistency’ between what the complainant had told police and the medical professionals.

Gibbs was not charged at the time but was arrested again in February 2021 when a school reported that Gibbs, who was the authority’s bus driver at the time, had been messaging a 15-year-old student.

In May 2022, at Oxford Crown Court, Gibbs pleaded guilty to one count each of sexual communication with a child and making indecent images of a child after six naked photographs were found of the teen on his device.

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The jury heard in the agreed facts that he had asked for the photos in exchange for ‘gifts or jewellery’.  

After his arrest, the alleged victim in this trial was contacted again by police and the case was reopened against Gibbs in August 2022.

However, Gibbs denies the offences in the early 2000s.