A CONVICT released from jail only two days earlier has been convicted of raping a woman while she was out jogging and holding her captive for nine terrifying hours.
Peter Lee Watton, 37, was found guilty of the rape and kidnap of a 44-year-old woman in what was described by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as a “horrendous sexual attack” last June.
A Chester Crown Court jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on eight counts of rape and one of false imprisonment and, after being directed by presiding Judge Elgan Edwards, returned a majority verdict of 11 to one on two accounts of assault by penetration and possesion of a bladed article.
Watton was remanded in custody and will be sentenced at a later date once a pre-sentence report has been prepared.
The court heard Watton, eventually apprehended on railway land at Lavister, near Rossett, subjected the woman to a sickening ordeal after coming across her while she was running with her pet dog in woodland in the Duke’s Drive area of Handbridge, near to the LA Fitness gym, off Wrexham Road, Chester.
Following the sentencing, Detective Inspector Simon Lonsdale from Cheshire Police, who led the investigation, said: “The bravery of the victim is extraordinary. I am humbled by her courage and determination which has enabled us to return a very dangerous man back to prison for a long time.
“Watton put the victim through a terrifying ordeal lasting several hours and had the audacity to claim the contact was consensual. Consequently the victim had to attend court and give evidence at the trial.
“Thankfully the jury saw through his lies and deceit and he will stay behind bars where he belongs.”
Det Insp Lonsdale added: “This case will obviously be very concerning to people, particularly in the Chester area, but I just want to stress that horrendous as it is, thankfully incidents like this are extremely rare for Cheshire as a whole.
“I would like to reassure the public that as they can see from the outcome of this case, when they do occur they are dealt with very seriously and swiftly to ensure dangerous men like Watton are removed from the streets and put behind bars where they belong.”
Watton spotted the woman while she was running at about 3pm on a wet June 14 and, having told her to “enjoy her run”, then forced her into woodland before raping her and threatening her with a knife and to hurt her family if she did not do what she said.
He then took her to another secluded location alongside a nearby field where he raped her again and held her captive for some seven hours before taking her to a third location. At the third location the woman, who was forced to perform sexual acts on Watton once more, made her escape across fields, while he had his jeans around his ankles, making it to a nearby house at midnight before making a breathless 999 call to police.
What followed was a six day manhunt across the area, with Watton, who had only been released on licence from Risley two days before the attack, finally being apprehended alongside the A483 near Rossett.
Claire Lindley, chief prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Peter Watton subjected his victim to a horrendous sexual attack.
“Her ordeal lasted nine hours. During this terrible time, her one objective remained – to survive and escape.
“She managed, despite all she’d been through, to keep a clear recollection of events and this has helped bring this dangerous man to justice. I would like to thank her for that.
determination to see justice done will encourage other victims of sexual offences to have the confidence to come forward.”