A violent rapist will be locked up for years for the horrifying abduction and rape of a female jogger, vowed top Chester judge Elgan Edwards.
Peter Watton, of Henley Road, Lache, lay in wait for his victim on the Duke’s Drive, Chester before dragging her into the bushes and raping her eight times during the nightmarish ordeal.
He had only been released from jail for two days when he threatened her with a knife, forced her to perform sexual acts on him and led her to the banks of the River Dee, where she feared she was going to die.
Now after Watton, 37, was found guilty of raping and abducting the woman following a harrowing five-day trial at Chester Crown Court, The Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards said he should expect a ‘severe’ lengthy jail term.
“All options are open, he should clearly expect a substantial custodial sentence,” said Judge Edwards, adjourning the sentencing for three weeks for pre-sentence reports, including reports from Watton’s prison guards and probation officers.
“I am erring on the side of caution for (Watton’s) sake and the protection of the public.”
It took the jury of nine women and three men just over two hours to find Watton guilty of all 12 counts after being sent out to deliberate on the last day of the trial on Friday.
As the verdicts were read out, Watton’s family hung their heads and gasped, and Watton shook his head as he was found guilty of eight counts of rape and one count of false imprisonment.
He was also found guilty by majority verdict of two counts of assault by penetration with an object and possessing a knife.
On June 14 last year the 44-year-old victim – who cannot be identified for legal reasons – was out jogging with her dog when she was dragged into the woodland by Watton, who tied her up and repeatedly raped her during the nine-hour abduction.
She eventually ran for her life, scaling fences and running flat-out with her dog towards houses to get away from Watton.
“He was very intent on getting me down to the river,” she said during a police interview played in the trial, describing the final scene of her terrifying abduction in broad daylight at 3pm.
“I thought he was going to whack me over the head, stab me with the knife and throw me in the river. I thought I would be found floating towards Chester. I didn’t want to die that way.”
Throughout the trial, Watton strenuously denied abducting and raping the female jogger, insisting they had consensual sex.
Instead, he had threatened his victim with a knife, saying he had been ‘watching her for two weeks’, knew where she lived and threatened her family.
A nationwide manhunt was launched after Watton went on the run. He was arrested five days later after an off-duty special constable spotted him on the railway tracks and chased him. He was eventually arrested on the A483 near Rossett after walking out on to the road.