Violent sex assault cold case solved after a decade in one of the first ever cases of 'covert DNA retrieval'

 

A violent sex attacker was caught when police used ground-breaking anti-terrorism powers to covertly recover DNA from a coffee cup he had used at the end of a four-day surveillance operation.

Detectives followed Keith Henderson to a café where they secretly obtained the forensic evidence which linked him to the horrific assault on two teenagers in 2001.

It is believed to be the first time that the legislation has been successfully deployed in a cold case review and police believe it could help revolutionise the way historic crimes are investigated.

Henderson, who was jailed for 12 and a half years in 2012, believed he had got away the attacks in which he knocked a 16-year-old boy unconscious before forcing his girlfriend to perform a sex act at gunpoint on a river path in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

The victims were left deeply traumatised by the assaults whilst Henderson, 59, evaded a major police manhunt. The full details of the case have only just emerged.

Scene of crimes investigators had painstakingly recovered a DNA profile from a single sperm head. More than 1,500 people were questioned in connection with the inquiry which was later featured on Crimewatch but the attacker was never found.

Chief Inspector Sean Memory of Wiltshire Police re-opened the case in 2007 and traced the DNA profile to Henderson’s family through the national database. During the surveillance operation he was followed to a coffee shop where the cup he had been using was seized by officers and swabbed.

The forensic material could then be used to justify the taking of another sample under the 2008 Counter Terrorism Act which was used as evidence in the successful prosecution.

DCI Memory, who last month received the Excellence in Investigation Award from The Investigator magazine for Best Cold Case, along with a colleague for their work on the inquiry, said the process could become a vital tool in the future.

“Once we had that [the coffee cup swab] we knew it was definitely him and knew it was not some other relative. It left me reassured that we had the right person.

“We only use the covert DNA purely for intelligence. Once we had him we could obtain another DNA profile to use as evidence.

“He never knew we were on to him and had been walking around a free man for 10 years. When we caught him you could see the amazement that we had caught up with him,” he said.

Henderson, who was living in Preston at the time of his arrest was found guilty of assault, possession of an imitation firearm, two counts of unlawful imprisonment and indecent assault at Salisbury Crown Court. He was placed on the sex offenders register for life.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power