April 2021

How ‘remorseless’ rapist Paul Wardle’s lies were exposed by science

Forensic evidence from a victim’s medical examination helped detectives pinpoint the exact date of a sex attack, and prove a vile rapist was lying.

Paul Wardle is today behind bars after a jury convicted him of raping a woman in Tyneside, several years ago.

But the sex offender might not have been snared had it not been for vital forensic evidence, which even amazed rape detectives.

Wardle’s victim, went for a medical examination the day after she was raped, more than three years ago. But she did not report the attack to police for several months.

When she came forward, her brave actions meant scientists were able to preserve evidence which would eventually identify the precise 24 hour period in which the rapist had struck.

And this helped detectives prove that Wardle was lying when he denied that attack, and get him locked up.

Today as the 35-year-old begins his sentence, the officer who brought him to justice has told of the moment he found out he had the evidence to nail the rapist.

And Detective Constable James Hutchinson, of Northumbria Police, has praised the woman’s bravery as he urges other victims to get medically examined even if they do not feel ready to speak to police.

He said: “That result from the scientists was something I had never heard of before. I can still remember the moment that I got that email.

“This case is a warning for anyone who thinks they can get away with this type of crime.”

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Wardle took advantage of his victim’s unconsciousness after she had fallen asleep after taking strong painkillers.

When she woke, she was alone but realised someone had had sex with her while she was asleep.

The victim was able to name Wardle as her attacker and Det Cons Hutchinson interviewed him. But Wardle denied everything.

“He didn’t make any admissions about what was reported. He denied there had been any sexual contact on the date in question,” the detective explained.

“For the first interview, although the samples had been taken, we didn’t have the evidence yet. He was interviewed as a voluntary attender and he was shocked and in disbelief that this accusation had been made against him. There was certainly no remorse.”

Wardle was then interviewed for a second time.

“He basically said there was no sexual activity that day,” Det Cons Hutchinson explained. “He said there had been consensual sex a number of days before and that nothing had happened that day.”

Police were also able to gather evidence from the victim’s phone, which helped back up what she was saying.

“There was also evidence obtained from WhatsApp messages which the victim was able to provide and that supported her and went against what he had said in his interview,” said Det Cons Hutchinson.

But the real breakthrough in the case came when forensic scientists were able to use samples taken in the victim’s medical to confirm the exact period sexual activity had occurred.

Det Cons Hutchinson said: “What the forensic scientist was able to say was that there were some components in the sample taken from the victim and they were able to prove that the sexual contact had been in the previous 24 hours from when the samples were taken.”

Wardle, of Skeeby Road in Darlington was charged with rape. He denied the offence at court. But after his brave victim gave evidence during a trial in February he was found guilty of rape.

On Wednesday he was sentenced to five years and seven months in prison.

Det Cons Hutchinson now hopes the case will reassure victims that rape trials don’t always come down to one person’s word against the other, and who the jury believes.

And there are a number of ways detectives can gather evidence to help prove that victims are telling the truth.

“There were a number of things that came together with the victim and her account, the forensic science and mobile phone data,” he said. “And there’s advances being made in forensic science all the time.”

Det Cons Hutchinson is now urging other sex attack victims to consider contacting their local Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) and get a medical, even if they are unsure if they want to report what has happened to police.