Rapist identified by DNA 25 years after attacker is caught by police dog

German shepherd Canto stabbed as she helped to trap Mark Hemmings

Arun Lal
Tuesday 06 March 2018 12:52 GMT
Mark Hemmings admitted to raping Margaret Gordon in 1993
Mark Hemmings admitted to raping Margaret Gordon in 1993

A rapist who attacked a woman in a park 25 years ago was finally caught by a police dog.

Mark Hemmings, 58, raped Margaret Gordon in Telford Town Park in February 1993. But he was never caught.

Detectives took samples of the rapist’s DNA which was found on Ms Gordon, who was 35 at the time, but it failed to produce a match.

However it was kept on the police database.

Hemmings was finally caught last summer, when police raided his home in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, after receiving reports of a man waving a knife.

German Shepherd Canto leapt at Hemmings who stabbed the five-year-old dog in the chest with the eight-inch blade.

Canto, who has since made a full recovery, received a bravery award last week.

After Hemmings was arrested, officers took a DNA sample which produced a match for the 1993 attack.

Gordon died in 2014, so never lived to see her rapist brought to justice. But members of her family attended Shrewsbury Crown Court to watch him admit to the rape.

He was sentenced to 10 years and six months.

“This was a terrifying and violent ordeal for the victim and I am very sorry that she is not here now to see justice being served," detective inspector Mark Bellamy said outside the court. “I hope her family can take some comfort from the fact that her attacker has finally been caught.

“The investigation has never closed and thanks to forensic science and meticulous work by detectives, Hemmings has now been convicted. We remain committed to pursuing rapists and sexual offenders, regardless of the time which has passed since the offences were committed.”

Canto's handler, PC Emma Worrall, 34, said: “As soon as we entered the property we were confronted by the man wielding a large kitchen knife. I released my hold on Canto’s collar and gave him the command to bite and detain.

“Canto leapt towards the man as commanded, but rather than bite he fell to the floor. I was shocked because Canto is an experienced dog and it was unlike him not to carry out my commands.”

Although he was hurt, the dog continued to bark at the man, an action which allowed officers armed with tasers to deal with the situation.

After he was arrested, officers took DNA from Hemmings which resulted in the match for the 1993 rape.

Julia Mcsorley, senior crown prosecutor with the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Unit, said: “The prosecution team were able to link Hemmings to the rape which he committed in 1993 through the use of forensic evidence.

“This key piece of DNA evidence has helped us to bring this dangerous sexual predator to justice for a crime which he thought he had got away with. This offence had a devastating effect on the victim and her family and our thoughts are today with them. We hope that today’s conviction will provide some measure of comfort to them.”

SWNS

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