Another dangerous predator is off the streets and behind bars after his victim spotted his image in the media.
Former scaffolder William Pope, aged 58, has appeared at Truro Crown Court and been sentenced to six and a half years in prison for a non-recent sexual assault.
Prolific offender Pope, who is currently residing in HMP Channings Wood after being previously sentenced for a string of indecent and sexual assaults on girls, featured in a Cornwall Live article in November 2017.
The article listed 67 ‘prolific sex offenders’. It was in this article that the victim spotted her attacker and contacted the police triggering a cold-case review.
The victim had been just 13-years-old at the time of the incident, which took place on Wednesday 22 October 2003 in Greenbottom, Chacewater, near Truro. Following an extensive police investigation and press appeals (pictured), the case was originally filed as undetected back in 2003.
In late 2017, with help from the victim, officers managed to put together a case that left Pope with no other option but to plead guilty.
DC Joel Brown said: “The victim had spent 16 years not knowing who subjected her to this horrendous attack. At the time extensive enquiries were undertaken to identify the offender but unfortunately he could not be traced.
“Following a further report to the police in late 2017, we have worked tirelessly on developing fresh lines of enquiry which resulted in William Pope being identified.
“Pope was interviewed but denied being the attacker using a false alibi that he had been at work at the time of the incident in 2003. Following further investigation we managed to prove that Pope was lying and had not been at work.
“Shortly after being attacked in 2003, the victim provided a description of her attacker and an E-FIT image was produced (pictured). The image has a striking resemblance to Pope and matches his description with several prominent facial features. The victim also picked out Pope during a police identification procedure.
“In 2017, Cornwall Live ran a news article which the victim had seen. The article contained 67 sex offenders. The victim was 100% clear she had seen an image of her attacker, William Pope.
“Pope told officers he was at work on the day of the incident but this wasn’t the case with work records showing that he had taken the afternoon off that day. Fortunately his time sheets (pictured) had been retained which was significant for the case.
“Whilst reviewing the original case, a description was obtained of the potential attacker at the time, which stated that the suspect appeared to be dusty or dirty and looked like he had been on a building site. In this case Pope was a scaffolder and had been at work the morning prior to the attack.
“The victim in this case has shown extreme bravery and strength in re-contacting police having struggled for many years.
“The message is clear; it does not matter how much time passes, we will always explore fresh lines of enquiry and seek to put those responsible before the courts.
“William Pope had the opportunity to admit his guilt when interviewed but instead he lied and forced investigators to prove his involvement. Through a detailed investigation, this is exactly what happened and he has had little choice but to plead guilty.
“Pope is a convicted paedophile and will now spend further time behind bars, where he belongs. His offending has had a significant effect on the victim’s life and I hope that this sentence will go a small way to give her some closure after all these years.”
Statement from the victim:
“I feel relieved that finally he will pay for his crime and that he can’t hurt anyone else and will remain behind bars. As for the press, I want to say thank you because without that article he would be walking free right now, my attacker wouldn’t have a name. To be able to say to myself “this happened to me and this person did it and he’s been convicted” is something I never thought I would be able to say. My faith is more than restored in the police, words don’t can’t do justice what they have done for me.”
Cornwall Live crime and court reporter Chris Matthews said: “William Pope is one of Cornwall’s most prolific sex offenders and his name alone sends a shiver down the spine of many people living in the Penzance area. When I saw him sentenced in court on the last occasion in 2017 I presumed that would be the last I’d see of him.
“However, it is a result of the enormous strength of the victim that she saw the article published the last time Pope was sent to prison and had the courage to report to the police what Pope did to her many years ago.
“He has now pleaded guilty to a further offence and will remain where he belongs – in prison. If it wasn’t for this remarkably strong victim coming forward Pope would have by now been released back into the community. That is a scary thought.”
If you would like to speak to someone about being a victim of historic sexual abuse please contact police and the Devon & Cornwall Police on [email protected] or by calling 101.
Alternatively contact the NSPCC 24hr helpline on 0808 800 5000 who can provide independent and confidential advice.
Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News