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Cold case DNA breakthrough secures conviction of 1988 York rapist

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A lorry driver has today (Wednesday 21 March 2018) been jailed for a total of 10 years for a rape he committed in York in 1988 and three house burglaries in Beverley in 1997.

Andrew Charles Pennington, now aged 53 and from Rawcliffe near Goole, was convicted following a cold case review conducted by the Cleveland and North Yorkshire Major Investigation Team.

The investigation team used a number of approaches including advances in forensic science relating to DNA testing to identify Pennington as the offender, which led to his arrest in November 2017.

Pennington was aged 24 and working as a forklift truck driver while living in Howden, near Goole, at the time of the attack.

He had been out for an evening in York city centre on Saturday 29 October 1988 and was walking back through the Castlegate area to his car.

He approached his 27-year-old victim, who he had never met, pushed her into a building and raped her before fleeing the area.

The woman has been receiving support from specialist officers following the recent developments in the case.

During police interviews, Pennington admitted carrying out the attack, saying “I’ve been expecting this one day”.

He was charged with rape and a section 14 indecent assault under the previous Sexual Offences Act, to which he subsequently pleaded guilty.

Further police investigations linked him to three house burglaries in Beverley in early 1997 from which jewellery, electrical items and both ladies and children’s underwear was stolen. He has also pleaded guilty to these offences.

Following his arrest he was remanded in custody pending sentencing at York Crown Court. Pennington was also  placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

After the sentencing, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Steve Menzies, who has led the investigation for the Cleveland and North Yorkshire Major Investigation Team, said: “Pennington was getting on with his life whilst the victim in this case spent three decades knowing that nobody had been brought to justice for the crimes committed against her.

“That is an incredible burden for anyone to bear. I praise her bravery and determination given that the arrest of Pennington, 29 years after the attack, will have renewed memories of the incident.

“I hope that the prison sentence gives her some comfort that the man responsible has been brought to justice.”

Statement from the woman who was attacked by Pennington

“The last few months have certainly been a roller coaster of emotions for me.

“The news that a suspect had been arrested for the attack on me brought the events of 29 years ago crashing back into my life; a life that I had only recently begun to feel confident about.

“Whilst I acknowledge the fact that the defendant admitted the offence, thereby sparing me the ordeal of giving evidence in court, this did nothing to lessen the impact that the attack has had on my life over the last 29 years.

“The events of that night changed my life forever – because one man decided to do what he did.  I do not, however, consider myself to be a victim.  I am a survivor and thanks to the diligence and hard work of North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police and their Cold Case Review team, the man who attempted to make me otherwise is now beginning a prison sentence.

“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved with re-investigating my case and to encourage anyone who has suffered in the way that I did to come forward, report the attack and bring the perpetrator to justice.

“If, in the future, you are in a situation like mine  –  where the Cold Case team contact you to say that a suspect has been identified – please be reassured that whilst it is without doubt  an initial shock, you will at all times be fully supported and treated with the utmost respect and dignity through the whole procedure. Thank you.”

The collaborative Cleveland and North Yorkshire Major Investigation Team was launched just over a year ago and has a specialist Cold Case Review Team within it.

DI Menzies added: “Through the tenacious and determined approach of our experienced team and with the assistance from our partners and colleagues within our own and external forensic teams, I am convinced that their work will continue to result in other offenders – who for years may feel that they have got away with their crimes – being brought to justice.

“This case proves that the police will never stop in the search for the truth. Offenders have the option to come to us or continue looking over their shoulders waiting for the knock on the door. We will do everything in our power to bring them to justice.

“To the victims who have so far been too afraid to come forward to the police to report such incidents, our clear message is that it is never too late to seek justice. Professional and caring support is readily available. You are not alone – we are here to help you. Please don’t suffer in silence.”

To make a report, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101, select option 1, and speak to the Force Control Room. If you feel threatened or you are in immediate danger, always dial 999 for an emergency police response.

Last modified: October 16, 2018