A father raped a woman just months before his two sons died in a blaze, a court was told.

Lewis and Taylor Jenkins were found huddled in each other’s arms under the stairs of their Eastbourne home after a fire in October.

Their father, Stuart Jenkins, 34, is on trial accused of raping a woman three times between 2004 and July last year.

Oliver Dunkin, prosecuting, told jurors at Hove Crown Court they were bound to feel sympathy for Jenkins.

He said: “That is a natural reaction to some of the evidence you are going to hear. But I urge you to put sympathy to one side.

“Those awful events are not what concern you in this trial, terrible as they are.

“This case concerns three occasions when the defendant had sex with this woman when she did not consent.

“He demanded and took sex with her knowing that she did not want it and when she had told him she did not want it.”

Mr Dunkin said that the woman had taken to drinking “far too much” after she was assaulted on at least three occasions.

In a police interview video played to the jury the woman said Jenkins raped her on July 28 last year.

She claimed he had thrown jugs of water over her and said she was “petrified” when he squeezed her neck hard as they argued.

And she said Jenkins had sex with her the next day despite her saying no.

She added: “I said no five or six times.

“He would have done it anyway and used violence. He has done it in the past.

“It is just easier to let him. If I say no he gets angry.”

Jenkins, of Milfoil Drive, Eastbourne, denies three counts of rape.

The trial continues.