A former Sunday Telegraph journalist accused of rape allegedly indulged his violent sexual fantasies in online chatrooms, a court has heard.

Ben Leapman, formerly of Eynsford, would describe to strangers on the internet how he wanted to hit and rape women, around the time he is alleged to have forced himself on a woman in real life, Maidstone Crown Court was told.

Leapman is charged with three counts of rape which are alleged to have taken place in 2012.

The 44-year-old appeared in front of a jury yesterday and today (July 1) at the start of his trial which is expected to take two weeks.

The court heard how the defendant's behaviour grew aggressive shortly before his home in Eynsford was raided and illegal material was found.

Prosecutor Eleanor Laws QC described to the jury how Leapman engaged in late-night conversations with strangers in online chatrooms in 2012.

She said: "He revealed violent desires.

"He said he liked hitting women.

"He was asked what b****es he would like to rape and he said the victim and best friend.

"He then went on to describe the victim in unflattering terms.

"We say those obsessive late-night conversations about rape are all about why he started to treat the victim as he did."

The alleged victim told the court how the journalist had a "crazed look" on his face during the incidents.

She said: "It sounds cliched but he would look at me in a pervy way.

"I would say 'I do not want to do that and reel away'.

"I would call out, 'please stop, you're really hurting me', but he would carry on."

The former deputy news editor of the Sunday Telegraph now lives in Vauxhall.

He received a suspended prison sentence last year for having illegal material on his laptop.

He campaigned for years to expose the MPs' expenses scandal while at the Sunday Telegraph.

The trial continues.