Triple rape accused was “checking prisoner’s make-up”

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A Stenhousemuir man accused of raping three women in jail claimed he was checking a prisoner’s make-up when a colleague found them alone in a room together, the High Court in Glasgow was told.

Prison officer Janine Hunter, 40, was giving evidence today (Friday, August 26) at the trial of mental health nurse Peter Barrowman, 35, who denies raping three prisoners in 2014 and indecently assaulting a fourth at Corton Vale prison between 2009 and 2010.

He is also accused of supplying Dihydrocodeine and Diazepam to prisoners.

Barrowman denies all the charges against him.

Miss Hunter said the accused had come into the prison’s Ross House on March 6, 2014, when it was his day off and he was not in uniform.

She told prosecutor Rosemary Guinnane: “He informed me his wife was getting her hair done at the hairdressers in the prison and said as a joke it was to save money.

“He then asked if case conferences had been done and said he had offered to help out.”

She said the case conference seemed hurried, and then she saw Barrowman talking to a prisoner he is accused of indecently assaulting, between January 2009 and December 2010.

He is also accused of uttering threatening remarks to her between January and March 2014.

The court was told that Barrowman took the woman into a nurse’s room and shut the door.

After about ten minutes Miss Hunter said she had to go into the room to dispose of a razor that a prisoner had handed back and put in the sharps bin.

She said: “I put my key in the lock. The door was unlocked but in the closed position. Peter kind of yelled ‘I’m still in here’ in a panicky way. He was a bit flustered and felt he had to explain what he was doing.”

The jury was told the woman prisoner was sitting in an elevated chair and that she and Barrowman were standing face to face, but not touching.

Miss Hunter said: “He was standing between her legs. Peter said he was checking her foundation. She did wear a lot of make-up at times.

“I said ‘from where I’m standing her make-up looks okay’ and I asked her if she was all right. It was a bizarre situation that I walked into.”

“I have never in my ten years service as a prison officer seen anything like that. It was unusual and I felt uncomfortable.”

Miss Guinnane asked: “How did Peter Barrowman react to you being in the room,” and Miss Hunter replied: “From memory he seemed very hyper and the woman prisoner avoided eye contact with me. I asked her if she was okay and she nodded and mumbled yes.”

She told the court she asked Barrowman if he had finished in the room and he said he would be another ten minutes as he was discharging the woman, who was going to another jail.

Miss Guinnane asked Miss Hunter: “How were you feeling,” and she replied: “Disbelief. I didn’t know how to describe it. It wasn’t good.

The prosecutor then asked: “Did you believe him that he was discharging her,” and Miss Hunter said: “No.”

The trial before Judge Sean Murphy continues.