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Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

Gunpoint rapist sentenced 22 years on


A man who raped a sex worker at gunpoint in Leicester in 1994 has been convicted and jailed, after a DNA sample identified him in 2013.

John Townsend targeted his victim on the streets of Leicester, agreed a price for sex and took her to a remote car park on the outskirts of the city. There, Townsend produced a handgun and raped her at gunpoint, forcing her to walk away from the car when the attack was over so he could drive away and abandon her. The victim sought refuge at a nearby garage and called the police. Townsend left traces of his DNA in the attack, but at that point, the use of DNA in police investigations was not well established.

Nearly 20 years on, Townsend, was required to give a DNA sample. His sample matched the profile taken back in 1994 and the victim was able to recount what had happened to her all those years ago.

He was charged with rape and indecent assault, tried and convicted. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison at Leicester Crown Court.

Lawrence English, Head of the CPS East Midlands rape and serious sexual offences team said: "This case demonstrates the value of securing evidence at the time of the offence, from witness accounts to DNA forensics. Although there was nothing that could be achieved with the samples at the time, modern scientific advances meant that when a sample was taken from Townsend, it identified him as the rapist.

"Townsend subjected his victim to a terrifying ordeal. It cannot have been easy for her to have revisited the events of that night and part of her past life, but she has given clear, compelling evidence that has brought Townsend to justice for what he did. The seriousness of his offending is reflected in the sentence handed down by the judge."

Townsend also received a sentence of ten years for the count of indecent assault, which he will serve concurrently to the sentence for rape.


Notes to Editors

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