Man is jailed for rape 14 years after attack on au pair

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A rapist who attacked an au pair outside a church 14 years ago was jailed for eight years yesterday.

Nick Keall, aged 41, a minicab driver, pounced on the woman, who was then 21, dragged her into the grounds of a church in north London and raped her in May 1989. Keall, of Winchmore Hill, north London, choked the woman and punched her repeatedly.

Wood Green Crown Court was told that the attack ruined her life and plunged her into a depression, which culminated in a nervous breakdown in January 1995. Now the victim, a 35-year-old financial assistant in Belgium, fears that every man is a potential attacker.

She sat in court as Keall, who has three children, was sentenced to eight years for rape and 12 months to run concurrently for assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was convicted after a week-long trial in July.

Keall was caught by detectives in the Metropolitan Police's Cold Case review team, a unit dedicated to investigating stranger rapes that occurred several years ago. He was charged because his DNA, taken after he was arrested for an assault in December 2001, matched the DNA profile taken from the rape crime scene.

Keall's daughter collapsed in tears in her mother's arms as the sentence was passed. Before being led away to the cells, Keall shouted: "May I just say I maintain my innocence. I did not do that."

Judge Ader told Keall that the delay in bringing him to trial had been more serious for the victim than it had been for him, even though he had to live under the threat of being arrested. He told Keall: "It was a severely aggravating feature that the victim was attacked at night by a stranger and dragged off the street. It has had a very serious impact on the victim ... I do not think that many people would argue with the suggestion that her life has been ruined."