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Teenager guilty of 'unspeakable' rape attack in Leicester

Photo: ITV News Central

A 17-year-old has been found guilty of attempting to murder a woman who he raped and bludgeoned with a paving slab in an 'unspeakable' late-night assault.

A High Court judge has ruled the identity of Charlie John Pearce, of Clarendon Park, Leicester, can be revealed.

Jurors took just over three hours to convict the youth after hearing how he had searched for internet videos depicting the rape of 'helpless' women in the weeks leading up to the attack.

A three-day trial at Leicester Crown Court was told the victim was left for dead in undergrowth in the city's Victoria Park - and only found when a passing cyclist spotted a pool of blood.

Although he denied any intention to kill the woman, Pearce admitted two counts of rape, causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and stealing the victim's handbag, which he later tried to burn.

While claiming through lawyers that he struck the victim to render her unconscious rather then kill, Pearce refused to go into the witness box during his defence case.

At the start of trial, prosecutor Gordon Aspden said Pearce was caught on CCTV as he tracked the victim carrying a slab or stone - before again being filmed by a security camera as he fled.

Footage filmed from a property nearby showed the teenager calmly stepping into a driveway to avoid a police patrol answering a 999 call from witnesses who heard 'thudding' noises as the woman was attacked at about 11.35pm on July 3.

The court heard Pearce, 'came within a hair's breadth' of killing the victim, who he dragged into undergrowth.

The woman was taken to hospital for life-saving treatment after being found by a female passer-by around an hour later.

In her testimony to the jury, the witness said she found the victim - who had 'truly dreadful' head wounds - after hearing movement in the bushes near a 'bright patch of blood.

The defendant, who had been drinking in a pub, was linked to the attack by 'one-in-a-billion' DNA matches after his parents contacted the police following a media appeal.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Aspden, the victim, who cannot be identified, said she could remember nothing of the attack.

I have no recollection of being assaulted or sexually assaulted, nor can I remember who the person was that did that to me.

– Victim

In his closing speech to the jury, Mr Aspden said the attack was an attempt to 'silence' the victim.

The prosecutor told the jury:

"An attack of this type was clearly something that had been festering at the back of his mind in the weeks and days leading up to its commission.

"The ugly truth here is that this dangerous young man, for his own selfish reasons, chose to carry out an attack of quite desolating wickedness on a complete stranger and his intention was to rape and kill her.

"He must have believed that she was very, very seriously injured, if not dying. She lay there for the best part of an hour, exposed, badly injured and abandoned. That speaks volumes about his mindset and selfishness."

Adjourning sentence on the boy, High Court judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said:

You have been found guilty of attempted murder by the jury on overwhelming evidence.

I am going to adjourn sentence on you in order to obtain reports - it would be in your interests to co-operate with the preparation of those reports.

In view of the gravity of your crimes, you can expect a lengthy sentence.

– Mr Justice Haddon-Cave