A MAN who dragged a 10-year-old schoolgirl into bushes and raped her nearly three decades ago has finally been brought to justice and jailed for 10 years after a cold case review.
The youngster’s attacker, who turned out to be Michael Acey, was known as “the pot-bellied rapist” because of the description she gave to police following her ordeal in 1984.
He struck as she was walking home from school on a track near the old Withernsea railway line, close to Bilsdale Grove, in Hull but in spite of extensive inquiries at the time he was not identified.
However last year Acey, 49, now a grandfather of Britannia Gardens, Exchange Street, Hull was arrested following a DNA match which came after evidence was re-examined.
Yesterday he admitted raping the tiny schoolgirl, who weighed less than four stone when he grabbed her on April 3, 1984.
Jailing him and ordering him to register as a sex offender for life, the Recorder of Hull and the East Riding told Acey: “You stole the childhood of a young vulnerable girl. You not only stole her childhood you blighted the rest of her life. The sympathy of the court goes out to her as does the hope that today’s hearing will help, to some extent at least, the healing process.”
At the time of the attack he said Acey was 21 while she was tiny for her age. “It was for her a devastating attack,” he added.
And Acey had then “tried to rub” salt into the wound by telling his traumatised victim she might have a baby as a result.
“She was absolutely distraught at what had happened, her physical injuries were unpleasant and she continues to bear the mental scars of what you did.
“A very substantial police investigation at the time failed to discover who it was and you must have thought in your own mind over all these years you had got away with it.”
In commending the police team, the judge said it was “another example of the long arm of the law.”
He accepted Acey, who appeared in the dock on crutches, was now genuinely remorseful but said he should be for such “shameful, disgusting behaviour” which had such terrible consequences for his victim.
Now 37, she described in a statement how Acey had “destroyed” her life and had her looking over her shoulder terrified for all the years since. “Every unknown male of the relevant age made me anxious, I was worried if that man had been may attacker.
“Even to this day I cannot walk the street near a stranger.”
Philip Evans, prosecuting, said the girl had visited a friend’s home after school and it was about 5pm, as she set off along a rough track to go home, that Acey suddenly grabbed her, putting his hands around her stomach.
Ignoring her cries, he carried her into some bushes nearby. He took off her underwear before making her perform a sex act on him after threatening to kill her. He then raped her, telling her she might have a baby.
After he left she ran across the tracks and eventually sought help from a woman walking her dog, who would later describe her as crying and very distressed, repeating “he’s going to get me.”
In 2010 her attacker’s DNA was extracted from her dress and coat and that eventually led to Acey, who when arrested immediately began to shake and cry. At the police station he said: ”That poor woman, that poor woman, I have destroyed her life.”
Mark Bury for Acey, who is registered disabled because of a spinal condition, said he had never done anything similar or been in trouble since 1987. At the time he was abusing substances to blot out his own blighted childhood.