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Double jeopardy legislation sees Telford man brought to justice for historic rape

A 64-year-old man from Telford has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after being found guilty of a rape which took place 29 years ago.

Irvine Watt

A 64-year-old man from Telford has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after being found guilty of a rape which took place 29 years ago.

Irvine Gareth Watt of New Road, Wrockwardine Wood, Telford, appeared at Stafford Crown Court last week, following a three day trial.
 
The offence was originally reported to West Mercia Police in May 1989, when Watt was arrested and charged.
 
In September 1989, Watt stood trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court where the judge directed the jury to enter a not guilty verdict due to lack of forensic evidence.
 
In February 2014, West Mercia Police commenced Operation Scenic which saw an internal review of undetected rapes, utilising new advances in DNA techniques to further historic investigations.
 
The investigation into Watt was one such case and in January 2016, an application was made to the Director of Public Prosecutions to gain consent for West Mercia Police to conduct investigative steps into the original offence with a view to a future re-trial.
 
This would be achieved by applying Part 10 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that identifies the legislation around double jeopardy.
 
Double jeopardy is the legal principle that says that a person cannot be tried for the same offence twice, however this principle was repealed in 2005 when the Court of Appeal was given the right to allow a retrial even after an acquittal if "new, compelling, reliable and substantial evidence" came to light.
 
Consent was subsequently granted in October 2016 allowing West Mercia Police to proceed with their new investigation, under the provisions of Section 85 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
 
In April 2017, Watt was rearrested and charged with the 1989 offence.
 
West Mercia Police then applied to the Court of Appeal in July 2017 for permission to quash the acquittal of Watt and successfully order a retrial.
 
Detective Inspector Mark Bellamy, of West Mercia Police said: "This is a fantastic result and is the first time that we have prosecuted an offender using the double jeopardy legislation.
 
"Sexual assaults can have an incredibly damaging effect on victims and I am hopeful that this sentence provides some form of closure after all these years. I also hope that this case encourages other victims to come forward, access the support available and report offences to the police.
 
"All sexual offences are taken very seriously by West Mercia Police irrespective of when they took place and people should feel reassured that they will be thoroughly investigated."
 
If you have been a victim of a sexual offence or know someone who has been a victim, help and advice is available. If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 999, or you can make a report by calling 101 or going to your nearest police station. Alternatively you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
 
If you do not feel comfortable speaking to officers, you can contact a referral centre which specialises in helping victims of rape and sexual assault - including providing medical care and counselling.
 
In West Mercia, you can contact The Glade Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). For more information go to www.theglade.org.uk, call 01886 833555 or e-mail info@theglade.org.uk
 
Issued at: 4pm, Tuesday, 3 July by LK, Corporate Communications

Published 03/07/18