Man jailed for 1980 rape - Slough

26/09/2012

A 53-year-old man has today, Wednesday, 26 September 2012, been jailed for nine years after being found guilty at Reading Crown Court of raping a woman in 1980.

Grant Thorowgood, of Rowe Close, Bideford, Devon, was found guilty by a jury (majority verdict of 11 to one) of one count of rape following a week-long trial.

Sadly, the victim Josephine Edwards, who was 31-years-old at the time of the incident, died in 1998 at the age of 49.

The victim was attacked at her home in Farnham Road, Slough, on 24 November 1980.

She was expecting a serviceman to call back, so when she saw a man pass her front window she assumed it was the serviceman returning and opened the door.

Thorowgood, who was 21-years-old at the time, forced his way into the victim's home and demanded money. She offered him a gold bracelet before running for the phone, but Thorowgood pushed her backwards onto the floor and raped her.

Before he left, Thorowgood told the victim to go upstairs and threatened to kill her if she raised the alarm.

The victim's 2-year-old daughter was asleep in an upstairs room during the incident.

No-one was arrested or charged during the initial investigation, but the case was re-opened by Thames Valley Police's Major Crime Review Team (MCRT) in 2010.

The MCRT discovered significant forensic evidence from an item of the victim's clothing. Further analysis produced a DNA profile, which linked Thorowgood to the attack, with a match profile of a billion to one. Enquiries also established he was living close to the scene at the time of the attack.

Thorowgood was arrested and charged in April 2012.

Baljit Ubhey OBE, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Thames and Chiltern Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This case involved the rape of 31-year-old Josephine Edwards in her home in Slough in 1980, almost 32-years ago.  The rape had a catastrophic effect on Josephine and sadly she died in 1998 aged 49.

"Josephine's 2-year-old daughter was asleep upstairs when Thorowgood entered the house, but woke up crying during the incident.  She and her family been very supportive of the prosecution and I commend them for their bravery.

The CPS takes all allegations of rape and sexual offences seriously and has specialist rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO) prosecutors who have expertise in dealing with sexual offences cases.  We work with the police and the courts to ensure that victims are given the best possible support during the court process.  In this case the victim did not have to endure the ordeal of giving evidence in court, but she gave her evidence from the grave as the statement she gave in 1980 was read to the court.

"Cases of rape and other serious sexual offences are among the most difficult cases that we deal with and need to be dealt with very sensitively.  We will continue to vigorously prosecute all such offenders.

"Today's guilty verdict concludes a detailed investigation by Thames Valley Police's Major Crime Review Team.  We have worked closely with them since this investigation was re-launched in 2010, and it is extremely pleasing that they were able to identify the offender for this terrible crime due to forensic science advances.

"This case highlights to the public that both the police and the CPS are committed to detecting unsolved cases and that victims should never give up hope.  We work tirelessly to review cold cases and wherever possible bring those responsible to justice.

"This also sends a very clear message to anyone who thinks that they have escaped justice for similar offences that our determination to ensure that justice is done remains undimmed, even years after offences are committed.  They are never safe from justice and with every advance in science; it is only a matter of time before they too are arrested.

"I hope that today's outcome gives some sense of closure to the victim's family, so that they can now put this unpleasant episode behind them and move on with their lives with the knowledge that the person who subjected Josephine to this terrible ordeal has been brought to justice.  Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time."

Pete Beirne, principal investigator from the MCRT, said: "The victim was subjected to an extremely traumatic ordeal by Thorowgood, who brazenly forced his way into her home in broad daylight.

"Tragically the victim died 14-years ago and never saw her attacker brought to justice.  However, the statement she compiled at the time was a key piece of evidence during the trial and undoubtedly helped the jury convict Thorowgood.

"The victim's family have fully supported our re-investigation and the subsequent trial and I would like to pay tribute to their bravery and courage. I hope they can find some form of peace following today's verdict.

"Once again, this demonstrates that Thames Valley Police's Major Crime Review Team is dedicated to undertaking reviews and re-investigations of unsolved crimes, no matter how long ago they were committed."

The victim's family have released the following statement in response to the sentencing:

"Justice has triumphed today. We are so happy that finally after all these years the man that committed this heinous crime is being punished and we as a family can finally have closure and move on.

"We would like to thank Thames Valley Police and everyone who has supported us through this difficult time."