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22 November 16

Op Hugo -Cold Case Success for our team

Peter Carroll jailed for 15 years for 1996 Norwich rape

Peter John Carroll was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Friday 8 August after previously being found guilty of rape.

Carroll had also been found guilty of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent following the trial in June when the jury failed to reach a majority verdict on a charge of attempted murder.

Carroll attacked the 20-year-old victim, a prostitute during the evening of Saturday 20 July 1996.

He was tracked down by police as a result of an unsolved case review.

Carroll had taken the victim, who he had met earlier, to the White Horse Lane area of Trowse where he raped, brutally attacked and attempted to strangle her in his car.

Despite her being four-months pregnant at the time of the attack, Carroll left the victim unconscious before driving away from the scene. The victim eventually managed to flag down a passing car and was taken to a police station in Norwich.

Commenting on the case Detective Inspector Marie James of the Joint Norfolk MIT said:

"This was a violent attack on a woman who was left with serious injuries to her head, neck and body. "During the attack the victim fought back and in the process scratched Carroll’s face which was to prove crucial to this conviction.”

The victim was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she underwent a forensic examination and swabs and fingernail clippings were seized.

At the time it was not possible to extract a DNA profile from the samples however, they were retained.

In September 2013, following the launch of an unsolved case review - named Operation Hugo - and advances in technology, a full DNA profile was obtained resulting in a match to Carroll.

In 1996, the Forensic Science Service carried out examinations of fingernail samples, condoms from the scene, body swabs and vaginal swabs from the Victim.  Blood was found on one of the fingernails but failed to yield a profile.  Semen was found on one of the condoms and was loaded to the National DNA Database.  Traces of semen were also found on the vaginal swabs but was not submitted for DNA analysis.  Only samples that had a good source of DNA were analysed during the original examinations.  Therefore, the second condom, the vaginal swabs, the body swabs and the fingernail samples in their entirety were not subjected to DNA analysis. 

The items were then submitted to the Norwich laboratory in 2013.  Initially, only the fingernail samples were examined based on information that the victim tried to fight off the Offender while he was strangling her.  The fingernails from each hand were sampled at KFS and submitted for DNA analysis.  Mixed DNA results were obtained from both hands, a major profile being obtained from the left hand.  The major profile was loaded to the NDNAD and resulted in a match with the profile of Peter Carroll.

Further items, including the second condom from the scene and the vaginal swabs, were subsequently examined as during interview, Peter Carroll initially denied any involvement in the incident, including being in the area and having sex with the victim.  Samples taken from this condom yielded profiles matching the victim.  The majority of the additional DNA on the inside of the condom matched the corresponding components in the profile of Peter Carroll. Unknown male DNA was detected in the seminal fractions of the vaginal swabs; however, the victim had had sexual intercourse with her partner the day before the incident.  This unknown male DNA matched unknown DNA found on the outside of the condom, providing further evidence that this was likely to be the condom used during the incident. The neck swab only yielded a profile matching the victim herself.

Peter Carroll later changed his account and stated that he had sex with the Victim but that she attacked him during the incident.  He denied strangling her and leaving her at the side of the road. 

Evidence was given by a KFS Reporting Manager Jessica Adby in Norwich Crown Court on 30th May 2014, who explained that the DNA results from the fingernails, the absence of ‘foreign’ DNA on the neck swabs and that the ‘unknown’ male DNA could have been from previous sexual intercourse, even though she had bathed before going out on the day of the incident.

Carroll was arrested by detectives and during police interviews he denied all responsibility for the attack despite the forensic evidence. He did admit visiting Norwich on occasions in his role as an engineer for an electrical goods company.

He was subsequently charged with attempted murder and rape.

Detective Inspector James, added: "We hope that such a case proves how crucial forensic evidence can help secure a successful conviction no matter how long ago the offence took place.

"This was a horrific assault on a woman who has had to live with the consequences for nearly 18 years.

"It has taken an enormous amount of courage for the victim to stand up in court and give evidence and we would like to commend her for the bravery she has shown.

"Such a case also shows the passing of time should not stand in the way of justice for victims who can be reassured we will do all we can to bring offenders before the courts.”

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