Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rapist Caught 22 Years on; Routine Check Led to Six Years in Jail

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rapist Caught 22 Years on; Routine Check Led to Six Years in Jail

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay

ADRINK-DRIVING conviction led to electrician Neil Haigh being caught for raping a worshipper on her way to a Sunday morning cathedral service more than 22 years ago.

When Haigh, 44, was caught over the drink-drive limit near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, last year he had to give a DNA sample as a matter of routine.

And that led to him being arrested for the rape of the woman, now in her 50s who was on her way to pray at Durham Cathedral on the morning of Sunday, September 20, 1987. A stain found on her clothes matched his DNA.

The rape in broad daylight on a riverside footpath close to Prebends Bridge in Durham city centre shocked the community at the time, but despite widespread publicity nobody was caught - until now, thanks to advances in forensic science.

His victim, who was employed by Durham University at the time, has never got over the attack, Durham Crown Court heard yesterday.

Haigh forced her into bushes as she walked along a footpath near Prebends Bridge, Durham, at around 10am.

He attempted to steal her handbag before forcing himself upon her. His victim told police she found herself "bargaining for her life," fearing Haigh was going to kill her.

David Crook, prosecuting, said a victim impact statement given all these years later by the woman said the rape had badly affected her ability to form relationships, had made her distrust men and to be "terrified" of footsteps behind her.

Following her ordeal she had to undergo medical tests for pregnancy, Aids and sexually transmitted diseases, added Mr Crook.

"I don't think I will ever get over the effect of what that man has done to me. It will be with me for the rest of my life," she said in a victim impact statement after learning of Haigh's arrest.

The court was told Haigh had not committed any similar offences since carrying out the rape as a 22-year-old. …

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