A TEENAGER who raped a girl on the eve of her 18th birthday told her to think of it as a present.

Lee Stephenson forced himself on top of his victim while she slept in her bedroom, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Stephenson, 19, of Coronation Avenue, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, later told police that the sex had been consensual and the girl had fabricated her allegations.

However, when he was quizzed further by detectives he changed his story and admitted there had been no consent, although he was too drunk to realise.

Deborah Sherwin, prosecuting, said Stephenson, nicknamed Scooby, had been at a party to celebrate the girl's birthday and had gone back to her home with other friends.

The girl later went upstairs to bed, but awoke to find Stephenson on top of her having sex.

Miss Sherwin said the victim tried to make excuses to stop him, claiming that her parents were next door and would hear.

She thought about screaming, but was said to be too scared, fearing Stephenson became violent towards her.

Miss Sherwin said that Stephenson told his victim: "Think of this as a birthday present".

A few days after the attack the girl told her sister what had happened, saying she felt sick and dirty, and the police were called.

When interviewed, Steph-enson, who had drunk eight or nine pints on the night, said he had gone up to the girl's bedroom and had chatted and smoked a cigarette with her, before falling asleep next to her on the bed.

He eventually conceded that he had in fact raped the girl and said he felt terrible.

Glen Gatland, for Stephenson, who admitted a single charge of rape, said he had been reckless as to whether the girl had consented or not.

He said: "He got it wrong and is now paying the price for his conduct."

Judge Les Spittle sentenced Stephenson to two years in a young offenders' institution and ordered him to register on the sex offenders register for the next ten years.