Man found guilty of sexual offences from 1984 - Berkhamsted

19/12/2014

A man was today, Friday, 19 December 2014, found guilty at St Albans Crown Court of carrying out three knifepoint sexual assaults in Berkhamsted in 1984.

Paul Drinkwater, aged 52, of no fixed address in Maidenhead was found guilty of two counts of rape, two counts of robbery and an indecent assault. Two counts of having an offensive weapon will lie on file.

The court heard how the first victim, a 15-year-old girl, was targeted on the evening of Sunday, 25 November 1984. She was followed by Drinkwater, who was wearing a balaclava. He grabbed her from behind dragged her from the street, forced her onto the school playing field, raped her at knifepoint and stole property from her.

Three weeks later, on 15 December 1984, Drinkwater, wearing a balaclava and brandishing a knife, approached two 18-year-old girls from behind. He made threats to the girls before he raped and punched one of them and indecently assaulted the other.  He also stole property from them.

Extensive investigations were carried out at the time, which included appeals locally and nationally on Crimewatch. As part of these investigations Drinkwater, who was living in Berkhamsted, was arrested in February 1985, but released without charge due to insufficient evidence.

It was a review which began in April 2012 by the Major Crime Review Team, along with advances in DNA, which led to him being re-arrested and subsequently charged.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor of Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the knife point rape and indecent assault of three teenage girls during two separate incidents in Berkhamsted in 1984.

"Paul Drinkwater wore a balaclava and brandished a knife when he committed the offences.  Not only did he order his victims to strip naked before subjecting them to the most terrifying ordeal, he then stole from them before making his escape.  These were planned, targeted and violent stranger rapes. Drinkwater is clearly an extremely ruthless, predatory and dangerous man.

"Drinkwater was first arrested by police in 1985 in connection with these incidents.  However, as he had disguised himself with a balaclava, the girls were not able to identify their attacker and he was allowed to walk free.

"We have worked closely with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Review Team (MCRT) and it is extremely pleasing that they were able to identify Drinkwater as the offender for these terrible crimes due to scientific developments and advances in DNA analysis.  The new and compelling forensic evidence gathered by the police and presented by the CPS was so strong that the jury found Drinkwater guilty of the offences despite his denials.

"This case highlights that both the police and the CPS are committed to detecting unsolved cases and that survivors should never give up hope.  We work tirelessly to review cold cases and wherever possible bring those responsible to justice.  The outcome also demonstrates to people who commit such offences that they are never safe from justice and that our determination to ensure that justice is done remains undimmed, even years after offences are committed.

"This prosecution would not have been possible without the courage of the victims who were willing to support proceedings.  Time has not diminished the effect these incidents have had on their lives; they have waited 30 long years for today's result.  I hope that today's conviction will offer some comfort to them after all these years.  Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Detective Inspector Pushpa Guild from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Review Team that led the investigation and said: "The victims of these truly horrifying attacks have today seen justice. I would like to thank all of them for their bravery and courage in supporting the prosecution, which has helped to secure this conviction.

"I am sure that Paul Drinkwater thought he would never face justice, but thanks to the work of the Cold Case Review team and subsequent inquiries by my team we were able to arrest and charge him.

"Cases such as these, where no charges are brought initially, are never closed and I would like to reassure victims that we will regularly review such investigations and apply any new or advanced forensic techniques available to us now when possible."

Paul Drinkwater will be sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, 30 January 2015.