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Anthony Carling jailed for raping a stranger in Cardiff nearly 30 years ago

An e-fit released in 1991, and a custody still of Anthony Carling finally jailed in 2019 Credit: South Wales Police

Anthony Frederick Carling thought he had escaped punishment.

That was until April 2019 - 28 years after he committed his crime - when South Wales Police officers finally knocked on his door.

On the evening 19 February 1991, a 40-year-old woman was walking her dog in the Waterloo Gardens area of Roath, Cardiff.

The prosecution told the court that she noticed someone was walking behind her, so decided not to take her normal route. The defendant then grabbed her and punched her to the right-hand side of her face with such force that she bled.

The court heard she was then subjected to a "sustained" attack.

In an impact statement she told the court: "Not only did he rape me, he ruined my life.

"Even up until this day, I am always feeling conscious about being followed and feeling unsafe. I constantly check for people behind me and feel panicked if somebody is, especially if a male.

"The last 28 years I have tried to get on with my life and forget about what happened."

In 1991, despite extensive detective work, information appeals and a description of the attacker being released to the public, officers did not identify Carling as the assailant.

Anthony Carling, pictured here in 1991, evaded justice for 28 years Credit: South Wales Police

Just over a year earlier Carling had been released from prison after serving three of a nine month sentence for indecent assault. On this occasion he had "laid in wait" before following a woman, dragging her down a lane and assaulting her.

Judge Daniel Williams told Carling on the evening of 19 February 1991: "You were out looking for a victim, your next victim. But determined this time to do even greater harm than you had before."

Sentencing Carling - who is now aged 64 - the judge told him: "You were defiant and arrogant when questioned and even challenged the officers to bring the matter to court".

  • Watch as Anthony Carling denies any knowledge of the attack during an interview with police

The court heard how Carling had, until the full weight of the forensic evidence was presented to him, denied any knowledge of the victim and carrying out the attack.

He later changed his plea and admitted rape and attempted rape in September.

How was Anthony Carling finally caught?

  • 1991 - a stain on the survivor's jacket is discovered but at the time, DNA could not be extracted from it.
  • 2012 - forensic scientists re-examine the stain and are able to extract a DNA profile from it, but when they run it against the police DNA database it doesn’t hit a match.
  • 2013 - under Operation Nutmeg officers visit Anthony Carling because of his previous conviction of indecent assault and ask him for a DNA sample. He provides one and it is uploaded to the database.
  • 2019 - officers on the South Wales Police cold case review team under Operation Moscow take another look at the case file. They ask forensic scientists to test the DNA sample again. They do, run it against the police database and this time there is a match - Anthony Carling.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark O’Shea from South Wales Police said the attack was "every woman’s worst nightmare".

He added: “It had a devastating effect - emotionally and physically - on her and sadly now in her 60s she is still suffering from injuries caused by the attack.

“There was an extensive investigation at the time which had all the things you would expect – house to house enquiries, media appeals, an e-fit was produced – however a suspect was never identified. But South Wales Police never gives up on serious crime investigations.

“Our review into this case began in 2017 and thanks to the application of advanced DNA technology and additional forensic work, Anthony Frederick Carling was identified as the person responsible and he has now been brought to justice."

Anthony Carling evaded police detection for nearly thirty years, but on Friday 25 October 2019 his past finally caught up with him. His 12 year sentence proof that there is no time limit to justice.

Sexual assaults or abuse can be reported via 101, or to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Alternatively, help, advice and support can be sought from Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC). Visit http://thesurvivorstrust.org/sarc/ or contact 02920 335795.