Peter Watton found guilty of repeatedly raping jogger during nine …
A violent criminal has been found guilty of a terrifying nine hour abduction of a jogger who ran for her life after being repeatedly raped at the side of a woodland footpath. Peter Watton, of Henley Road, Lache lay in wait for his victim on Duke’s Drive, Chester before dragging her into the bushes and raping her eight times during the nightmare ordeal. He had only been released from jail for two days when he threatened her with a knife, forced her to perform sexual acts on him and led her to the banks of the River Dee, where she feared she was going to die.
It took two hours for the jury of nine women and three men to find Watton, 37, guilty of raping and abducting the woman following a harrowing five day trial at Chester Crown Court. As the verdict was read out Watton’s family hung their heads and gasped. Watton shook his head as he was found guilty of eight counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment.
He will be sentenced in about three weeks on a date to be fixed. The jury was sent back out to consider verdicts on two counts of assault by penetration with a sexual object and possessing a knife. But they returned less than half an hour later with majority verdicts of guilty.
His 44-year-old victim – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – was jogging with her dog when she was ambushed by Watton, who was on licence after being released half-way though a six year prison sentence for a violent kidnapping and robbery in Crewe. She was led to three different secluded parts of the woodland, where she was tied-up and raped over a nine hour period. She tried to build a rapport with him in the hope he would spare her life.
He constantly said he would let her go if she performed sexual acts, when it got dark, or when he was dead after saying he wanted to take a drug overdose as he couldn’t live with himself for what he had done to her. But as darkness closed in she believed he was never going to let her go, and as he committed the final sex act against her, she pulled his trousers around his ankles and ran for her life, scaling fences with her dog in a final bid to get to safety. He was very intent on getting me down to the river, she said during a police interview played in the trial, describing the final scene of her terrifying abduction in broad daylight at 3pm on June 14 last year.
I thought he was going to whack me over the head, stab me with the knife and throw me in the river. I thought I would be found floating towards Chester. I didn’t want to die that way.
Watton was charged with eight counts of rape, two counts of assault by penetration, one count of possession of a bladed article and one count of false imprisonment. He threatened his victim with a knife, saying he had been watching her for two weeks, knew where she lived and threatened her family. Watton, who was sentenced to six years in 1999 for the attempted kidnapping of a lone female driver in Crewe, strenuously denied abducting and raping the female jogger throughout the trial, saying it had been consensual.
A nationwide manhunt was launched after Watton went on the run from police. He was arrested five days later after an off duty special constable spotted him on the railway tracks and chased him. He was eventually arrested on the A483 near Rossett after walking out on to the road.
Speaking outside the court after the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Williams said Watton was back where he belonged ‘behind bars’, saying: This was a shocking case to deal with from start to finish, but I am really pleased with the result the jury has returned today.”