A man who committed sickening sexual attacks on teenagers more than 30 years ago has today been jailed for a total of 29 years.
Loathsome Paul Drinkwater, now aged 52, will be in his 80s when he is released from prison for the rape and robbery atrocities he inflicted on young girls in Berkhamsted in 1984.
Drinkwater, of no fixed address in Maidenhead, had been brought to trial by officers from the tri-force Major Crime Unit last year and was found guilty of two counts of rape, two counts of robbery and an indecent assault.
He had also been charged with two counts of having an offensive weapon which will lie on file.
At St Albans Crown Court today, the barbaric rapist was sentenced to 14 years for each rape count and one year for the indecent assault offence.
He was also given four years for each robbery to run concurrently.
Not only did he subject his victims to the most terrifying ordeal, he then stole from them before making his escape. These were planned, targeted and violent stranger rapes.
During the trial the court heard how the first victim, a 15 year old girl, was followed by a man wearing a balaclava on the evening of November 25, 1984.
He grabbed her from behind, dragged her from the street and raped her at knifepoint, stealing property from her in his wake.
Just three weeks later on December 15 the same year, two 18 year old girls were approached from behind by masked man, brandishing a knife and making threats to the friends.
He raped and punched one of the girls and indecently assaulted the other, before again stealing property from them.
Extensive investigations were carried out at the time, which included appeals locally and
nationally on Crimewatch.
As part of these investigations Drinkwater, who was living in Berkhamsted at the time, was interviewed by police in February 1985 but not charged.
It was not until a review was launched by the Herts, Beds and Cambs Major Crime Unit’s cold case review team in April 2012 - along with advances in DNA technology - that the attacker was re-arrested and subsequently charged.
Det Insp Pushpa Guild, who led the investigation, said: “I am sure that Paul Drinkwater thought he would never face justice and I am pleased that he has been handed a significant sentence to
reflect the seriousness of the offences he has committed.
“I would like to thank the victims of these truly horrendous crimes for their bravery and courage in supporting the prosecution. Not only were they victims of such terrifying attacks decades ago, they have had to relive what happened to them.
“I hope that knowing this dangerous man will be behind bars for some time will be at least some comfort to them.
“Cases such as these, where no charges are brought initially, are never closed and I would like to reassure other victims that we will regularly review such investigations and apply any new or advanced forensic techniques available to us now when possible.”
Det Insp Guild also paid tribute to all of the officers and staff involved in the case for their hard work and determination in bringing the case to court.
Chief crown prosecutor of the Thames and Chiltern CPS Adrian Foster added: “This case involved the knifepoint rape and indecent assault of three teenage girls during two separate incidents in Berkhamsted in 1984.
“Paul Drinkwater wore a balaclava and brandished a knife when he committed the offences.
“Not only did he subject them to the most terrifying ordeal, he then stole from them before making his escape. These were planned, targeted and violent stranger rapes.
“Drinkwater is clearly an extremely ruthless, predatory and dangerous man.”
Mr Foster explained a conviction at the time of the attack hadn’t been possible as, due to his disguises, Drinkwater’s victims hadn’t been able to identify their attacker.
He said the new and compelling forensic evidence gathered by the police and presented by the CPS was so strong that the jury found Drinkwater guilty of the offences, despite his denials.
Mr Foster added: “This prosecution would not have been possible without the courage of the victims who were willing to support proceedings.
“Time has not diminished the effect these incidents have had on their lives; they have waited 30 long years for today’s result.
“ I hope that today’s conviction and sentence will offer some comfort to them after all these years. Our thoughts are very much with them all at this time.”