A “highly predatory” rapist, formerly of Longbridge, has had his appeal to overturn his conviction thrown out by judges at the Criminal Appeal Court in London today, the Birmingham Mail reports.
Arrest following West Heath rape – further victims come forward
John Dennis, more commonly known as Tommy Dennis, was first arrested in September 2013 and charged with the rape of a woman in West Heath. He was also charged with historical rape from an incident in 2010.
His arrest prompted three more local victims to come forward and speak to West Midlands Police.
At trial, the court heard that the rapes were committed against a background of physical and emotional abuse. Each of his victims described him as bullying and manipulative and with highly predatory behaviour. During police interviews and in court, John Dennis denied the offences and sought to discredit the victims as liars and fantasists.
In April 2015, a jury at Birmingham Crown Court found Dennis guilty of five counts of rape and three counts of actual bodily harm, dating from 1997-2013, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison.
However, in July last year, the sentence was referred to the Court of Appeal under the unduly lenient sentence scheme by the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP due to “the seriousness and magnitude of rapes committed over a sustained period of time.”
The Court of Appeal doubled Dennis’s sentence to 20 years and the Solicitor General said: “John Dennis’s highly predatory behaviour caused untold misery to his victims, who should be commended for finding the courage to come forward. I hope that the doubling of this sentence to 20 years offers some degree of comfort to them and reassures the public that offences of this kind will be treated with the utmost seriousness and the perpetrators will serve a long time in prison.”
Appeal against conviction claims “witch hunt”
The Birmingham Mail today reported that Dennis’s lawyers “sought permission to challenge his convictions – claiming he had been the victim of a ‘witch hunt.'”
But, according to the Birmingham Mail, Mr Justice Gilbart threw out his complaints saying that the previous judge’s decision was “a matter for congratulation, not criticism”, being “clear”, “properly reasoned” and “appropriate”.
Victims’ bravery praised
Following the original conviction, detectives stressed that historic rape is still worth reporting as they can support victims and still gather evidence to prosecute.
Detective Inspector Ian Ingram, said: “We don’t underestimate how difficult it can be for some sex crime victims to disclose offences – that’s why we have a team of officers specially trained to deal sensitively with victims, offer support and guide them through the process.
“We always take reports of rape seriously…and victims needn’t worry if offences occurred many years ago because we can still build compelling evidence against offenders.
“I’d like to thank the women who came forward and supported our investigation.”
DI Ingram urged anyone who has suffered a sexual assault, or domestic abuse, to call West Midlands Police in confidence on 101 for support and action.
Royal Courts of Justice (housing Court of Appeal) photo by Jonathan Brown on Flickr