Shropshire

DNA convicts Telford man of rape after 29 years

Irvine Gareth Watt Image copyright West Mercia Police
Image caption Irvine Gareth Watt has been jailed for the rape, which happened in 1989

A man has been jailed for 10 years after being found guilty of historical rape.

Irvine Gareth Watt, 64, of New Road, Wrockwardine Wood, Telford, was charged with the offence in May 1989.

But, during the first trial at Shrewsbury Crown Court, a judge directed a jury to find him not guilty due of a lack of forensic evidence.

Using modern DNA techniques, police were able to gather new information which led to his conviction.

In February 2014, West Mercia Police launched Operation Scenic, a review of undetected, historical rapes using advances in DNA techniques.

Watt's case was included and the force applied to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consent to reinvestigate the offence, with a view to a re-trial.

Permission was granted in October 2016, and Watt was re-arrested for the offence in April last year.

'Incredibly damaging effect'

The force then had to ask the Court of Appeal to quash his acquittal and order a retrial.

Watt was found guilty of one count of rape following a three-day trial at Stafford Crown Court.

Detective Inspector Mark Bellamy, of West Mercia Police said: "This is a fantastic result and is the first time that we have prosecuted an offender using the double jeopardy legislation.

"Sexual assaults can have an incredibly damaging effect on victims and I am hopeful that this sentence provides some form of closure after all these years."

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