Man jailed for sexual assault of teenager 20 years ago
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A man who sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl from Gloucestershire whilst accompanying a coach tour to Austria 20 years ago has been jailed.
Stephen Capper, aged 68, and of Manor Road, Torquay, was sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday 7 February) for the incident.
Police have praised the victim for her courage and determination to see the case through.
Capper was employed as a coach driver by Wallace Arnold Coaches in July 2003 when the incident happened, and in his role, was responsible for driving tour parties on holidays to Europe.
The young victim, who was on holiday in Austria with family members, said Capper approached her in the hotel one evening, pestered her for her room number, and then arrived unannounced at her room. Once there, he orally raped her.
Before leaving the room, Capper told her that 'nobody can know about this because you will get into trouble'.
Following a trial in November last year, Capper was found guilty of indecent assaultunder the Sexual Offences Act 1956, as the incident happened prior to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 coming into force.
He was sentenced to four years and three months in prison, as well as being handed a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Appearing in court to read out her Victim Personal Statement, the victim said: "Despite the incident happening 19 years ago, I still vividly remember how I felt immediately after I closed my hotel room door once he had left.
"I felt disgusting, shocked, embarrassed and I felt scared. I was warned that if anyone was to find out about what had happened, that I would be the one who would get into trouble. This is what, to my young and naïve mind, ultimately forced my silence for so long.
"Over the years, I tried inconceivably hard to bury my feelings and thoughts, and I tried to carry on and act as normal as I could. Ultimately, I would continue to live with this coping mechanism for 16 years until 2019 when I finally felt ready to speak my truth.
"Unfortunately, by this point, the damage caused was already irreversible and I quickly realised that I had allowed this inscrutable secret to subconsciously control and affect my life for over 16 years."
Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Detective Constable Elle Macleod, who led the investigation, said: "The victim has shown amazing courage in coming forward to the police and remained resilient in supporting the criminal justice process to its conclusion.
"I wish to commend the victim for her bravery and strength, and for helping to ensure no further victims ever come to harm at the hands of this defendant. Now she has finally got some closure for what she was subjected to and I hope she can begin to rebuild her life."
Acting Detective Inspector Faye Satchwell-Bennett, from the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Team, said: "Specialist staff from both Gloucestershire Constabulary and Crown Prosecution Service use the tenacity of their specialist investigating skills in these matters, to build a strong case for presentation at trial and in providing a high level of support to the victim.
"Both our agencies are determined to support victims of rape through the initial reporting and onto trial. We actively encourage the reporting of these matters so they can be investigated by our combined specialist resources and are jointly dedicated to bringing sex offenders to justice, regardless of how long ago a crime happened."