Two women, who were raped by a Luton taxi driver over a decade ago, in two separate attacks in Eaton Bray and Luton have finally been able to get justice.
Shipu Ahmed, 35, of Avondale Road, was jailed for 22 years at Luton Crown Court today (Friday) for two counts of rape committed within the space of two weeks in late 2007.
He was convicted on Friday 4 May, following a two-week trial, after DNA evidence linked him to the both the unsolved cases.
His DNA profile was traced as part of work carried out under Operation Painter, begun in 2016 by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit to review undetected rapes and sexual offences which occurred in between 1974 and 1999.
Ahmed’s first victim was only 15-years-old when she was walking along a street late at night in Eaton Bray on 30 November 2007. Ahmed offered her a lift but took her to a secluded picnic area in Totternhoe Knolls where he raped her before taking her back to Eaton Bray
The incident was reported to police and the following day a forensic examination of the scene was carried out, resulting in the recovery of a condom which contained some DNA.
Two weeks later, Ahmed went on to attack a 22-year-old woman after she and an acquaintance got into his car at a taxi rank after a night out in Dunstable on 15 December 2007. After dropping her acquaintance off, Ahmed sped away with the victim and drove her to an area of Luton, where he raped her in the back of the car.
She reported it to the police the same morning and had a medical examination, where samples of DNA were taken.
At the time of the attacks, several lines of enquiry were carried out to trace the offender, but officers were unable to identify him.
Then, in September 2017, Ahmed was arrested for an assault and his DNA was collected as part of the investigation. It proved a match on the DNA database from evidence collected during both rape investigations, linking him to the offences.
Officers carried out further lines of enquiry and in October 2017, Ahmed was arrested and charged with two counts of rape.
One of the victims, in her statement, described how this has had huge effect on her life.
She said: “I cannot put fully into words what this has done to me. There have been parts of my life, especially since the police told me that they had found him, that have been filled with nothing but anger, suffering, bitterness and stress and just sheer mental and physical pain – all caused by the actions of one man, one night, raping me.
“The effects of what he did that night has been so far reaching, silently torturing my mind over the last 10 years, no matter how hard I tried to forget, it was always there I am so relieved that it is over.”
The other victim stated that she was shocked to have received a call from the police 10 years later.
She said: “I never expected that the police would look at my case again. I was worried, it was just so out of the blue. I had tried my best to deal with what had happened to me and move on. I never really expected that I would have to go through all this again.
“When I found out that an arrest had been made, I was happy that the police had found him. It made me feel like the police had believed me and that was important to me.”
Detective Inspector Pushpa Guild said: “We are satisfied that Shipu Ahmed has received such a substantial sentence as these attacks have had a huge impact on both the victims and their families since 2007 and its remarkable they finally have justice.
“Both women were incredibly brave in coming forward to report the attacks and we would like to commend their courage as they had to endure the ordeal of giving evidence and reliving it all again so many years later.
“We take all reports of rape, sexual assault and sexual violence extremely seriously, no matter how long ago they may have happened.
“We encourage anyone who has been the victim of rape or sexual abuse, no matter when it took place, to come forward and report their experience, get support and more importantly know they are not alone.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Mark Lay of Bedfordshire Police, the officer in charge of Operation Painter, said: “This is the second successful conviction and substantial sentence under Operation Painter thanks to advancements in DNA and forensic science allowing us to review cases dating back decades.
“This further proves the importance of this work in revisiting past cases in order to bring evil predators to justice and deliver a form of closure for their victims.”
The team is currently reviewing in excess of 1,600 crimes dating back as far as 1974 across the three counties.
If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault, you can receive support and guidance from Bedfordshire Police and partner agencies including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as being supported through the criminal investigation process.
Victims can report their experience to police by calling 101.
You can also contact Bedfordshire’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), the Emerald Centre, which offers a safe, non-judgmental, caring and sensitive service or the Hope Programme, which provides support, counselling and coaching for sexual victims in Bedfordshire.