'Barbaric' teenager guilty of attempted murder after trying to bludgeon rape victim with paving slab

Rapist Charlie John Pearce

A “barbaric and wicked” teenager who bludgeoned a woman with a paving slab on his 17th birthday and then left her for dead after raping her twice has been found guilty of attempted murder.

Jurors were told that Charlie John Pearce searched for internet videos depicting the rape of “helpless” women in the weeks leading up to the late-night attack in Leicester’s Victoria Park.

A judge ruled that the teenager’s identity should be revealed to the public after he was unanimously convicted at Leicester Crown Court.

Although he denied any intention to kill the woman, Pearce admitted two counts of rape, causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and stealing the victim’s handbag, which he later tried to burn.

The victim, aged in her 20s, suffered “truly dreadful” head injuries at the hands of Pearce, who was captured on CCTV running towards the victim.

Image taken from CCTV of Charlie John Pearce running through Leicester’s Victoria Park after he tried to bludgeon a woman to death with a paving slab on his 17th birthday

In a statement issued by Leicestershire Police after the case, the victim – praised by officers for her “humbling” fortitude – told how she woke from a coma weeks later, unaware of what had happened to her.

Security cameras at a property nearby showed the teenager calmly stepping into a driveway to avoid a police patrol answering a 999 call from witnesses who heard “thudding” noises as the woman was attacked at about 11.35pm on July 3.

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The court heard Pearce, who will be 18 in seven months’ time, had dragged the victim into undergrowth, where she was found around an hour later by a cyclist who spotted a pool of blood.

Trial judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave ordered that Pearce, of Clarendon Park, Leicester, should be named after reporters argued that doing so would be in the public interest and have a powerful deterrent effect.

The defendant, who had been drinking in a pub, was linked to the attack by “one-in-a-billion” DNA matches after his family contacted the police following a media appeal.

In his closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Gordon Aspden said the attack was an attempt to “silence” the victim.

CCTV shows Charlie John Pearce hiding behind a car (left) and looking out from a driveway near Leicester’s Victoria Park

Adjourning sentence on Pearce, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said: “You have been found guilty of attempted murder by the jury on overwhelming evidence.

“I am going to adjourn sentence on you in order to obtain reports – it would be in your interests to co-operate with the preparation of those reports.

“In view of the gravity of your crimes, you can expect a lengthy sentence.”

Speaking outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Rob Widdowson, who led the investigation, said the attack was “barbaric and wicked beyond belief”.

The officer said: “The horror that he brought to this young woman on that summer evening, and the controlled and deliberate attempts to dispose of the evidence, all but defy description.

“Had his victim not been found when she was, and were it not for the skills of the many specialists who treated her, I believe she would have died that night.

“She has shown a level of courage and fortitude that at times has left me and the many officers who worked on this investigation speechless.”