20th Sep, 2019

Rapist jailed nearly three decades after Alvechurch attack

Lauren Jeal 24th Nov, 2015 Updated: 18th Oct, 2016

A MAN who raped a 16-year-old girl in Alvechurch has been sentenced to more than six years in jail nearly three decades after he committed the crime.

Steven Hearl, of Hunters Walk, Birmingham was given the prison term at Worcester Crown Court on Monday (November 24) after archived evidence was re-investigated by the Major Crime Review team.

The 63-year-old attacked the teenager at 8pm on Friday, June 26, in 1987, as she was walking along the footpath from Alvechurch Station. She became aware of a noise behind her and Hearl placed his hands over her eyes so she could not identify him, pushed her through a gap in the hedge into the adjacent field before raping her.

Detective Inspector Paul Hardman, who facilitated the arrest of Steven Hearl, said: “This was an opportunist attack on a young teenage girl. Steven Hearl never came forward and consciously allowed his victim to endure over 25 years of suffering in the knowledge that her attacker was still at large, and more worryingly, unidentified.

“We hope that this conviction gives the victim some closure, allowing her to finally put the attack behind her and move on with her life.”

Hearl was not identified in the original investigation due to a lack of forensic evidence but advances in scientific technology and DNA matching meant police were able to successfully link him to the crime. When confronted with the evidence Hearl pleaded guilty to the charge on November 2, 2015.

Chief Superintendent Martin McNevin, the strategic lead for rape and serious sexual offences for the alliance, said: “Victims of rape and sexual offences can be reassured that all reports, regardless of when they were made, will be thoroughly investigated. We will use all available investigative tactics and innovative technologies available to us as well as regularly reviewing cases.”

Detective Sergeant Sharon Avery, leader of the Major Crime Review Team, said: “We have been able to utilise the latest in scientific technology and apply these techniques to archived evidence in relation to undetected rape and sexual offence cases.

“Scientific expertise of forensic providers has assisted us in securing full DNA profiles of suspects.”

Hearl was also sentenced to six and a half years for other indecent assault offence and three and a half year for attempted burglary at the same time.

A victim of rape or sexual assault can get help and support even if they don’t want to go to police by self referring to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC). For information visit the Get Help page of the Stop Rape Now website www.stoprapenow.co.uk

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