A WOMAN has told a court how she was systematically abused by three brothers more than 30 years ago.

The alleged victim - a schoolgirl at the time - says she was raped by two of them and assaulted by them all.

She appeared in the witness box at Teesside Crown Court yesterday at the start of the trial of the three men.

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Keith, 56, John, 58, and Alan, 53, Whittingham, from Hartlepool, deny all the charges against them.

In interview after their arrests last year, they protested their innocence and said the claims were fabricated.

Prosecutor Shaun Dodds told the court that the accuser described Keith Whittingham as "nasty and horrible".

Mr Dodds said she "plucked up the courage" to report the alleged abuse after confiding in her partner.

She told police that she had been shown pornographic magazines and ordered to act out poses in pictures.

In an interview with a specially-trained detective, the woman said the abuse made her scared and her body hurt.

Keith Whittingham, of Garside Drive, faces four charges of rape and indecent assault and one of indecency with a child.

John Whittingham, of Clarkson Court, is charged with three counts of indecent assault.

Alan Whittingham, of Carlton Street, faces four charges of rape.

The trial is expected to last up to seven days.

Judge Howard Crowson told the jury of seven men and five women: "These sorts of cases can cause strong emotion.

"It is important that you judge this case in a dispassionate and objective way."