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"Dangerous predator" jailed for historic knifepoint sex attack on 13-year-old boy

3 minute read
"Dangerous predator" jailed for historic knifepoint sex attack on 13-year-old boy

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 5:39pm 19th February 2020. (Updated at 5:54pm 19th February 2020)

A man has been jailed for 11 years for the sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy at knifepoint on a tow path in Woodham, near Woking, more than 37 years ago.

Ian David Harmer, 63, of Aspen Lane, Northolt, Ealing, was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment, reduced to 11 years after he pleaded guilty, when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court earlier today (19 February).

Although an investigation was carried out at the time, Harmer was not identified.

However, the case was kept under regular review and in 2016, with the development of new forensic techniques, samples taken from the victim were compared to profiles held on the national DNA database and came up with a match for Harmer. 

Officers tracked him down and he was arrested and charged with buggery in February 2017. 

The victim was walking along the tow path next to the Basingstoke Canal around mid-morning on 26 April 1982 when Harmer engaged him in conversation, asking him if he had seen his dog.

Harmer told the victim he had a knife and the victim immediately felt pressure in his lower back leading him to believe Harmer was telling the truth.

Directing the teenager into woodland next to the tow path, Harmer then sexually assaulted him.

Harmer made off after telling the boy to count to a certain number before getting up.

The teenager ran home and told his parents what had happened, and they reported it to police.

Detective Inspector Paddy Mayers, who led the investigation, said:

“Harmer was a dangerous predator who took advantage of an innocent teenage boy in broad daylight.

"The victim was left severely traumatised by his ordeal and has had to endure more than 35 years of thinking his attacker would never be caught.

“Fortunately, when the case was reviewed in 2016, the advances in forensic techniques meant that samples taken from the victim at the time could be compared to profiles held on the national DNA database and Harmer was identified as being responsible.

“This has enabled us to finally bring him to justice for the heinous crime he committed that day and will hopefully allow the victim to begin to move on with his life. 

“Harmer thought he had got away with it, but this case demonstrates that no matter how long ago a crime took place, we will never give up in our pursuit to bring the person responsible to justice.”