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Hearing will decide whether alleged rapist Mark Caunce of Buckley can change his plea for second time

A MAN who admitted carrying out a brutal rape has applied to change his plea to not guilty.

Mark Caunce, 21, of Victoria Road, Buckley, initially denied raping and inflicting grievous bodily harm on a 30-year-old Chester woman in the city centre in July of last year.

However, he was convicted after he changed his plea to guilty eight days into the trial and was due to be sentenced in April.

Caunce, 21, a trainee chef at the Queen Hotel in Chester, then appointed a new legal team and applied for permission to revert to his earlier not guilty plea.

During a hearing at Warrington Crown Court on Friday, Caunce, who was dressed in a long-sleeved blue shirt and tie, spoke only to confirm his name.

After making sure that the necessary waiver to appoint his new defence team had been correctly submitted, judge Nicholas Woodward then fixed a further hearing to decide whether the plea can be changed.

Acknowledging the fact that it is now almost a year since the alleged offence, Judge Woodward warned new defence barrister Kenneth Hind: “We cannot put this case off indefinitely.”

A different judge – Mr Justice Teare – must now decide whether the plea can be changed.

Prosecuting barrister David Potter will stand down for the hearing, as he could be called as a witness. He will be replaced by Andrew Long.

Should the application to change the plea be successful, Mr Justice Teare would order a retrial.

However, should the application be unsuccessful, Caunce would then return to court at a later date to be sentenced.

The matter will be decided at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, July 29.

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