DNA traps rapist and sex attacker after 20-year wait for justice

John Leeming

John Leeming

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AFTER 20 years haunted by the knowledge her rapist was still at large, a woman finally saw him brought to justice yesterday.

John Leeming was jailed for a total of seven years for her rape when she was a student in Bradford in October 1991 and a later sexual assault on another teenager in Doncaster the following year.

Sentencing him at Leeds Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told the 49-year-old the psychological effect on his first victim “has clearly lived long and will continue to live long in her memory.”

“She has had to live with this for over 20 years, knowing that the man who did it to her may well still be on the streets and no doubt wondering whether he was doing it to anybody else.”

The judge said the answer was he was, since Leeming had attacked another woman in August 1992, an 18-year-old targeted outside her home in Wheatley, Doncaster as she got back in the early hours from a night out.

He said that was a persistent and gross attack during which he threatened to kill her. “It is about as bad a case as one can imagine” and she too described the devastating effect it had on her.

The judge rejected submissions that a motor cycle accident in 1990 had caused changes in Leeming contributing to his actions and said it was more likely to be alcohol in the first attack and a combination of drink and cannabis in the second.

Leeming of Temple Lane, Whitkirk, Leeds admitted rape and two charges of indecent assault.

Sophie Drake prosecuting said the student was given a lift home by a friend after visiting a club in Wakefield and opened the door when there was a knock thinking he had returned.

Leeming maintained later she had given him her address when he met her at the club and once into the house attacked her. She was begging him not to hurt her and after raping her said: “I feel guilty enough” telling her not to tell anybody.

When he had gone she flagged down a passing milk float to take her to the police station for help. She described how the rape had “ripped apart” her life. She was terrified he would find her again and kept trainers by her bed so she could run away.

The following year Leeming struck again at 4.15 am on August 15. As the girl got home from a night out in Sheffield Leeming approached her about a taxi then asked to use her phone before attacking her.

He removed her top and began kissing her breasts. He punched her in the face and told her to shut up when she tried to push him away and went on to remove the rest of her clothes.

He forced her to the ground behind a wall when a car went by and sexually assaulted her.

She described in her victim impact statement how she changed from being the life and soul of the party to someone with little confidence. She suffered panic attacks and was prescribed tranquillisers.

Leeming was caught after he was cautioned in 2010 for a road rage incident threatening a woman driver and his DNA was found to match semen found after both attacks.

Derek Duffy for Leeming argued a head injury from the accident contributed to his actions because his life outside that period was entirely different. He had formed a long term relationship with a woman he had now married.

After the case Detective Inspector Howard Atkin of West Yorkshire Police’s Operation Recall, said the women had been subjected to “horrific ordeals” and paid tribute to their bravery and resolve.

Detective Sergeant Ian Harding who runs South Yorkshire Police’s Cold case review team said: “I am sure Mr Leeming through he had escaped justice after all this time and it gives my team and me great satisfaction to see him proved wrong.”

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