Child sex killer Peter Pickering found guilty of raping 18-year-old in 1972

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A child sex killer dubbed The Beast of Wombwell has been found guilty of the violent rape of an 18-year-old woman more than four decades ago.

Peter Pickering, 80, handcuffed his victim before subjecting her to a brutal attack which included burning her with cigarettes.

Pickering carried out the attack in Sheffield in June 1972 in the back of his van after the young woman accepted a lift to work from him.

It is thought the attack was carried out around four weeks before he raped and stabbed 14-year-old Shirley Boldy to death in Barnsley.

Jury hears how ‘Beast of Wombwell’ raped teenage victim and burned her with cigarettes

The schoolgirl was returning home from Wombwell High School, in Barnsley, when Pickering bundled her into the back of his van.

Pickering is the subject of a hospital order after admitting to the manslaughter and rape of Shirley Boldy on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A jury today found Pickering guilty of rape and false imprisonment after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

The case was adjourned for further psychiatric reports.

Pickering is likely to be sentenced for the offences in June.

Mr Justice Goss told Pickering: “You have been convicted by the jury on very clear evidence of very serious crimes.

“I am not in a position to proceed to sentence on you today and indeed I will not be in such a position for some time yet because reports have to be prepared.

“You should be under no illusions that these are further serious crimes you have committed and I will have to determine what is the appropriate sentence in your case when I have the necessary information.”

The sex attack on the woman, now aged in her 60s, did not come to light until recently when police were looking through Pickering’s medical notes.

The medical notes contained disclosures made by Pickering to psychiatrists.

As a result of the disclosures police were able to trace the woman.

Jurors were told the 18-year-old accepted the offer of a lift from Pickering as she walked to work

He then drove her to a secluded location before forcing her into the back of the van before raping her.

Pickering then told the woman he was going to have to kill her.

Prosecutor Michelle Colbourne, QC, told the jury: “Notwithstanding that she had the good sense and wit to try to distract him.

“She reassured him that she would not tell anyone.

“She continued to reassure him and his mood became relaxed.”

The prosecutor said Pickering dropped the teenager off at home.

She added: “(The complainant) never told anyone in her family or friendship group what had occurred.”

New evidence came to light when police discovered diaries and letters written by Pickering when they search a lock-up garage in Sheffield.

During the 1970s Pickering kept diaries and wrote regular notes in exercise books.

Police found extracts which supported the prosecution case that Pickering had a desire to commit violent sexual offences against young girls.

One entry in an exercise book, dated October 27, 1970, read: “Well we’ll wait till 1972 gets here.

“Sex is predominant in my mind - eclipsing all else.

“Maybe I will be a sex maniac proper. Rape, torture, kill.”

Pickering claimed the teenager went willingly with him in the van before consenting to sex.

Pickering appeared in court via a video link from Swindon Crown Court but did not give evidence at the trial.

Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen, Senior Investigating Officer in the case, said: “We are delighted he has been brought to justice today for an offence he committed more than 46 years ago.

“His victim has had to live a lifetime of knowing that Pickering, while not at large, had not answered for the dreadful and terrifying ordeal he put her through on that evening.”

He added: “Pickering was convicted following a methodical police investigation which saw us locate and examine lock-up units he rented in which we found significant amounts of material related to this case.

“This material proved to be a key factor in helping officers identify and contact his victim to begin the process of both investigating this offence and seeking the justice she has been entitled to for many years.

“I hope that the conviction of Pickering will be of some comfort to the victim who has lived with the impact of his crime for the majority of her life.”