Anger as rapist's sentence is reduced

APPEAL court judges have sparked outrage after ruling that a brutal rape of a 21-year-old did not justify a life sentence - despite acknowledging that she would be “haunted by the memory for the rest of her life”.

Dave Gooderham

APPEAL court judges have sparked outrage after ruling that a brutal rape of a 21-year-old did not justify a life sentence - despite acknowledging that she would be “haunted by the memory for the rest of her life”.

The Court of Appeal decision was last night branded disgusting - and prompted calls for it to be reviewed - after judges overturned a life sentence given to Robert English who kidnapped a woman from a supermarket car park and subjected her to the horrifying sex ordeal.

Three senior judges said they did not feel the life sentence given to the 59-year-old man - who lured his victim by asking her to help carry his shopping bags in the centre of Brandon - was “appropriate”.

Married father-of-two English, of Fiddlewood Green, Norwich, could now be free within five years after his sentence was downgraded to imprisonment for public protection.

Yvonne Traynor , chief executive of the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre, said: “This ruling is absolute nonsense and needs to be looked at imperatively by the criminal justice system as this man is a murder waiting to happen.

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“He obviously got a kick out of this and next time it could be something even more tragic. The victim will be suffering from post-traumatic stress and this will be another setback as it has minimised what she has been through.”

Brandon councillor, Eddie Stewart, a member champion for community safety for Forest Heath, said: “I think rape is tantamount to killing someone as the victim has had their life taken away from them.

“That man (English) destroyed that girl's life and she will never be the same again. She will suffer for the rest of her life so he should suffer for the rest of his. I think the ruling by the Court of Appeal is disgusting and people in Brandon will be horrified by it.”

The sex offender was initially sentenced to life imprisonment for kidnapping and repeatedly assaulting and raping the young woman at an isolated caravan in Hockwold, Norfolk.

After kidnapping her from a supermarket car park, English took his 21-year-old victim to the spot he threatened would become her grave if she did not yield to his sick lust.

The victim, who at one point had her neck, feet and hands tied with rope, was then subjected to a series of sex assaults and rapes, during which she begged to be released, fearing all the time that she was going to be killed.

Following a major police operation, English was sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum term of seven-and-a-half years, after admitting kidnap, false imprisonment, two rapes, sexual assault and assault by penetration during a hearing at Norwich Crown Court in October.

But yesterday, three senior judges in the Court of Appeal ruled that the sentence was wrong and ordered that English be allowed to apply for parole after serving just five years and four months of a term of imprisonment for public protection.

Lord Justice Dyson - who overturned the life sentence sitting alongside Mr Justice Irwin and Mr Justice Sweeney - said: “Grave though these offences were, in our view, this was not a case for the imposition of a sentence of life imprisonment.

“We acknowledge this was a truly horrific experience for a 21-year-old victim who will almost certainly be haunted by the memory for the rest of her life, but we do not think that they justify a life sentence.

“That said, he did not, in fact, use the knife, nor did he use violence on the victim, over and above the sexual acts themselves.”