Story of how cops snared vile rapist

IT was old-fashioned police work which provided detectives investigating the brutal Brandon abduction and rape with the crucial breakthrough.

IT was old-fashioned police work which provided detectives investigating the brutal Brandon abduction and rape with the crucial breakthrough.

Perpetrator Robert English had no previous convictions and, as such, no sample of his DNA existed on the police database, thus thwarting detectives' attempts to snare him through cutting edge forensic enquiries.

However, through detailed interviews with the traumatised victim, a picture of the58-year-old's lair - the isolated rural outpost where he conducted his sickening attack - began to emerge.

So precise was the 21-year-old's account of her horrific ordeal that the evidence soon led cops to English's door.

Despite being covered with a blanket in the rear of her attacker's 4x4 and threatened with a knife, she was able to recollect a bumpy off-road track and a static home, set in secluded woodland.

But it was her memory of an orange crate, turned upside down and used as a step, which proved the catalyst for English's arrest.

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Mike Crimp, a prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “She was questioned at some length by police and even though she was distressed, she gave a very accurate description not only of the man who had kidnapped her but also of the location where the attack took place.

“Although she had been tied up and her head covered, she was able to describe the journey they had taken.

“She described the static home in some detail. When police were searching the area, they put the helicopter up and identified the static home as being the one she had described.

“She had also recollected an orange crate which she thought had been used step to get into the static home. When police found the home, they quickly spotted the orange crate, too.”

Officers were dispatched to the static home on July 10 - less than a month after the attack - where they arrested English.

Later, DNA tests and forensic checks on the biological material recovered by scene of crime officers, coupled with an identification parade, would confirm that police had snared the Brandon rapist.

“We had a compelling case against him,” said Mr Crimp.

English bought the static home used in the attack from his employer at a fishery.

Mr Crimp told The Evening Star that in interview English talked freely about himself and his personal circumstances, but as soon as DNA evidence was put to him, he answered 'no comment'.

Should sentences for rapists be tougher? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

ROBERT English hardly fits the stereotypical image of a sex attacker.

Married with two grown-up children and a spotless criminal record, there were few clues that the 58-year-old would commit such a despicable act.

“This was a very unusual case,” said Crown Prosecution Service barrister Mike Crimp.

“Most rape investigations we deal with involve people who know each other in some way. Stranger rape is very, very rare.

“It's alarming that somebody can be kidnapped in this way in a big supermarket car park.”

So what drove English to rape?

Ged Bailes, a consultant forensic clinical psychiatrist, said the attack would not have taken place “out of the blue”.

He believes English would have thought about rape and could have followed other women in the past.

“They don't just happen, despite the act seeming totally out of character,” he said.

“Something may appear to be out of the blue, but there is always thought. Thought precedes action.

“People who carry out a rape like this may go and test the water first. Perhaps they might follow a woman for a while and imagine it happening, but refrain from actually carrying out the attack.

“I have known people who have followed woman around but then they pull back and stop because it's too dangerous.

“Perhaps it's been in the rapist's mind for sometime and they have fantasised about it.

“Some people will talk about these thoughts and make sense of them, stopping them from developing to the next stage.

“But there are others who will not talk about it, those who are a closed book, who are perhaps in denial and repress the thoughts they may have.”

Mr Bailes said so-called stranger rape was very rare and “the absolute worst”.

FORMER neighbours of Robert English in Fiddlewood Road, Norwich said today they were shocked that the friendly man they saw each morning could have committed such a terrible crime.

It has now emerged that the former lorry driver has two grown-up children and a wife Jackie, who still lives in the family home in Fiddlewood Road.

Mandy Lofty, who lives in Fiddlewood Road, said: “I never spoke to him much, but he was always polite and he always seemed a friendly bloke.

“We were really shocked when we heard what he had done. No one could believe it.”

Another neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “I used to speak to him if I saw him. They were, and still are, quite a quiet family.

“His wife's a lovely woman, and her boy and daughter are lovely people. They have done nothing wrong and have caused no harm to anybody.”

Other neighbours said they spoke to him when he walked his dog, but he was not particularly friendly with any one person.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, added: “He was just another neighbour.

“People around here tend to keep themselves to themselves, and he was the same. But no one had any problems with him, to my knowledge.”

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