A man has been jailed for kidnapping and raping his ex-wife in a bunker under a Hackney home, which was created in case there was a terrorist attack but later converted into a dungeon.
On Monday 6 July, the man was sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment after, on 3 July, he was convicted of two counts of rape (14 years for each), kidnap (seven years) and false imprisonment (four years), following a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court. All sentences are to run concurrent.
The case was pursued by the Metropolitan Police Service even though the the victim refused to testify after coming under pressure from family members to withdraw the allegations.
It is the first successful "victimless" prosecution for rape by the Met Police and has been described as a "momentous milestone" for rape victims.
The offences took place at the premises in Hackney, north-east London, on 15 October 2014. The court heard the victim had arranged to meet her ex-husband so she could take her granddaughter out. Once at the venue, he sprayed her with a substance that left her unconscious.
He then bound her hands, feet and mouth before carrying her into a hidden office room. She was then dropped into the dungeon.
Once there, the defendant cut off the victim's clothes and raped her twice. She was then left alone, before eventually cutting herself free and calling police.
The 999 call, lasting over 20 minutes, was played to the court during the trial. Officers who came to the woman's aid had to call for further assistance in order to break into the premises.
Once inside, they could hear the victim screaming and found her in a distressed state in the dungeon, which had been heavily concealed. Access was from a small hatch concealed within the base of wardrobe.
Terror safe house
The victim was interviewed by specially trained detectives. Officers believe she came under significant pressure from family members to withdraw the allegations, however legislation enabled prosecutors to continue the trial without her testimonial.
During the trial, the defendant contested that the dungeon was a safe house to be used as a refuge in case of an attack by terrorists.
Detective Inspector Neil Rawlinson, of the Met's Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: "This verdict marks a momentous milestone for all victims of rape. It is important to note that the victim in this case was fully engaged throughout the police investigation but at the point of the trial, felt unable to attend.
"Due to the overwhelming evidence gathered by my officers, which supported all aspects of the victims account, the CPS agreed to proceed with the trial without the victim – a first of its kind for rape."
A second defendant, Steven Hill, 53, of East Bank, north London, was found not guilty of rape and false imprisonment but the jury was unable to reach a decision on one charge of kidnap. A decision on whether there will be a re-trial will be made in due course.