Police reveal rape hunt tactics

TWO Ipswich men are today serving jail terms totalling 15 years for the horrific rape of a woman in the town. Today crime reporter MARK BULSTRODE talks to the man who led the investigation into the sickening crime and finds out how the case was solved.

TWO Ipswich men are today serving jail terms totalling 15 years for the horrific rape of a woman in the town.

Today crime reporter MARK BULSTRODE talks to the man who led the investigation into the sickening crime and finds out how the case was solved.

WHEN any stranger rape is reported, police know the speed of their response in preserving precious pieces of evidence is vital if they are to catch the culprits.

But when Suffolk police were initially told a woman had been attacked, in the early hours of February 11, they had yet to establish where exactly it had taken place, never mind the people or persons responsible.

The first thing to do was to speak to the victim, a 31-year-old woman from Ipswich.

Detective inspector Stuart McCallum, who led the probe, said: “We have in the small hours of February 11 a report of an alleged rape. We don't know how it has happened or who has done it.

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“Right from the outset that ups the ante. We have a stranger rape on our hands and we don't yet know where it has happened.

It was good work on the night from the officers who had to deal with a distressed and intoxicated victim. From that we got the scene.”

The site of the horror, an area between the former Odeon cinema and Ipswich Regent Theatre, is immediately sealed off as scenes of crimes officers move in.

Expert work done in these key minutes would eventually prove vital to the end conviction.

A major breakthrough is immediately secured as semen is found, which is eventually linked to Paul Tavares, 27, of Nacton Road, Ipswich.

This led to his arrest and subsequent charge in connection with the offence, although right from the outset he denied any involvement in it.

Det insp McCallum said: “He was very cocky and arrogant in his first interview. He was quite dismissive to the officers. Initially he said he was wearing a skirt that night and was with Jordan (the glamour model). Then in a later interview he denied being involved in any criminal offence but accepted he had a sexual encounter with a lady. He refused to name his friend but said he was with a friend.”

Inquiries continued to gather more evidence against Tavares while also finding his accomplice - the victim had always said there were two people involved.

Intelligence led them to focus attention on a man called Carlos Almeida, 25, of Macaulay Road, Ipswich.

But first they had to wait for him to leave hospital, where he was receiving treatment for a bone marrow condition.

It was during this period that a search warrant was executed at his home and a number of items were seized, including his coat.

This provided another breakthrough. Fibres from the garment were found on the clothes of the victim, proving he had contact with her at some point.

Almeida was interviewed and refused to comment on the allegation but at the same time more evidence was being gathered against him.

House to house inquiries led detectives to a witness who recalled seeing Almeida walk across to the car park and call to Tavares to join him.

Closed circuit television footage apparently showed Tavares and Almeida together in the area of the rape.

And the most significant image showed the pair walking down Upper Orwell Street, just nine minutes before the victim made her way to a telephone box in Major's Corner to phone her friend and tell someone for the first time she had been raped. Soon after the police were called.

Det insp McCallum and his team of six officers had finally gathered enough evidence to take the case to court with a degree of confidence in securing a conviction.

And after eight days in court, both men were found guilty. Tavares was given an eight-year jail term and Almeida seven years.

Det insp McCallum, who led a team of six in the probe, said: “I'd like to pay tribute to the whole police staff, including the community support officers, who guarded the scene, the uniform officers who responded on the night and assisted the victim and the expert officers who took the statement from the victim and the people in CID. It was about a whole team effort.”

He was also full of praise for the victim's courage, adding: “What she had to go through in giving live evidence about what she had been through wasn't pleasant for her. I've spoken to her about it and she hated it.

”When she had the phone call to say both were guilty she collapsed in floods of tears. Ultimately that's why we do the work. It's an excellent result because of what she had to go through, both in terms of the offence and then having to relive it.

“With the support of her friends and family, this will really help her to be able to look forward to the rest of her life because this experience is now behind her.”

Weblink: www.suffolk.police.uk

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