THE jury in the trial of a man accused of raping a stranger on a riverbank is considering its verdict - but has been sent home for the weekend to "relax".

Abdel-Aziz Al-Shamary, 21, is alleged to have carried out the the sex attack behind Halfords in Darlington town centre in May after drinking heavily.

His victim had left a pub in the town centre when Al-Shamary beat her and raped her on the grassy bank of the River Skerne, Teesside Crown Court was told.

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The court heard the bloodied and sobbing victim, a woman in her thirties, was found lying face down with her jeans and pants pulled around her ankles.

Mr Al-Shamary, of Pensbury Street, Darlington, was arrested nearby and refused to allow a female police officer to touch him, the jury was told.

In police custody, he was heard to yell: "Do you know Saddam Hussein? I am Saddam Hussein, I will not talk to you, you are a woman."

He also shouted on two occasions the words "bitch country" while he was being taken into custody, the court heard.

The complainant in the case gave a harrowing account of her ordeal, which she said took place as she left The Greyhound pub.

She told police officers in a video statement played to the jury: "I left the pub and he came over to me and pushed me over on the grass of the river bank.

"I fell face-down with my arms in front of me and I turned to look at him and he punched me in the face.

"He punched me again with his fist and hit me on the nose, when I put my hand to my face it was covered in blood.

"Then he got on top of me from behind, I could feel his weight on me. He pulled down my jeans and my pants and I could feel that he was raping me."

She added: "He told me not to say anything or he would come back and hurt me. He made me feel horrible, scared and frightened."

Two women passing in a car saw what was happening on the bank of the river and circled back to help.

They found the alleged victim lying covered in blood where she had been left by her attacker and dialled 999.

A recording was played to the court and the victim could be heard sobbing in the background as she helped the two friends recount what happened to the operator.

Earlier in the trial, prosecutor Paul Abrahams referred to sex videos Mr Al-Shamary had been watching on his mobile phone at about 7.30pm that day.

He said: “He was watching people having sex outdoors. It is relevant as when confronted with a lone female he raped her.”

DNA from the alleged victim was found on Mr Al-Shamary's underwear, the court was told.

Mr Al-Shamary said he fell into conversation with the woman and was "curious to know more about her, in a normal way."

But she told him to go away and he raised a hand to her face, causing her to fall over, he claimed, adding that it was his efforts to help her up that led to her jeans and pants falling down.

Mr Al-Shamary, who had been drinking from two bottles of Jack Daniels whisky, denies rape and an alternative count of attempted rape around midnight on May 16/17.

The jury of seven women and five men retired to consider its verdicts after Judge Sean Morris finished summing up the case yesterday afternoon, and spent three-and-a-half hours considering the evidence.

But verdicts had not been reached by shortly before 4pm, so the judge sent members of the panel home for the weekend, to return to continue their deliberations at 10.30am on Monday.

"All discussion stops until then," said Judge Morris. "You have done enough work for today, and so have a rest.

"Forget about the case. Have a really good, relaxing weekend."

In his evidence, Mr Al-Shamary said he would not have assaulted the woman if he had not been drunk.

"I didn't go away because I was not in my normal way," he told the jury. "I was drunk, but not too drunk.

"When I am sober, it is impossible for me to behave in this way.

"I ignored her pleas because I was drunk, and I struck her because I was not in my normal way.

"When she fell, her trousers fell down. I am 100 per cent sure her trousers were fully up when I left."

Judge Morris told the jury that the alleged victim made a complaint to police about being attacked two years ago, but she quickly withdrew it and admitted it was false.