Rapist traced by victim to camper van in Spain gets jailed for 16 years over attacks on woman and teenager in Hartlepool
Jeffrey Waite was found guilty of four rapes of an adult woman, and one rape of a teenager decades ago in Hartlepool.
He went on the run in 2016 after failing to turn up for an earlier rape trial in relation to the younger victim.
The jury could not reach a verdict, which prompted the older victim to come forward.
She used social media to trace Waite to a camper van in Alicante, Spain, from where he was using a false online profile to contact member of the family.
The victim passed the information to Cleveland Police, who in conjunction with other agencies including Interpol, arrested Waite and brought him back to the United Kingdom.
Waite was listed as living in South Hylton, Sunderland, when he appeared in court in March last year after being arrested on a European warrant.
In the last week, a jury at Teesside Crown Court heard Waite raped his older victim four times, and his younger victim once,
He plied his younger victim with cider and Cherry B before taking her to an unoccupied house in Hartlepool where the rape took place.
The younger victim said; "What happened has been detrimental to my mental health for all my life.
"I've been unable to form relationships and my marriages have failed.
"What he did has made me unable to give the normal maternal love to my children that a mother would give.
"For that reason alone, I can never forgive Waite for what he did.
"I sometimes wonder if abusers have any idea of the damage they cause to those they abuse and those around them."
Both victims said they were too frightened to come forward for many years.
Police became involved after the younger victim had counselling for her problems.
She told the counsellor about being raped.
The counsellor was duty bound to inform the police because it was feared Waite may have been working with the public as a taxi driver.
He told the jury at the time of the alleged rapes he was operating ice cream vans in Hartlepool.
Waite, 66, whose last address in this country was in South Hylton, Sunderland, denied five charges of rape.
He was convicted of all charges after the jury deliberated for 55 minutes.
Stephen Duffield, defending, said Waite is in ill-health.
"He has breathing difficulties," added Mr Duffield.
"The inevitable lengthy sentence will bear heavily on a man of his age.
"All of these rapes happened over a relatively short period, and there was but one against the younger victim."
Judge Sean Morris jailed Waite for 16 years.
The judge told him: "The impact on your younger victim has been particularly severe.
"You caused her considerable psychological damage.
"She has other problems, but the rape was certainly a predominant trigger."
Waite wad made the subject of an order which restricts his contact with women for the rest of his life.
Investigating Officer Acting Detective Sergeant Nicky Barker of Cleveland Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Unit praised the victims for their "courage and dignity".
She said: “From the moment they came forward, Waite’s victims have shown real courage and dignity and I can’t praise them highly enough. This investigation meant they’ve had to revisit traumatic times in their earlier lives and deal with the most painful memories.
“I hope today’s verdict will go some way to helping them as they come to terms with what they went through - and have been going through - ever since the early 1980s.
He added: “I welcome today’s verdict. Waite repeatedly denied and lied about his actions but he will now spend a long time in prison - where he can reflect on the crimes he committed."
The senior detective thanked the Tahira Bourchier, Crown Prosecution Service lawyer working on the case; his colleagues in the Child Abuse Investigation Team and the force’s Intelligence officers for their "invaluable help and support" throughout the investigation.
“There was also a huge amount of 'behind the scenes' work to do. I’d like to thank the NCA, Interpol and the Spanish authorities for their support. It’s fair to say that everyone involved worked tirelessly to find Waite and bring him to justice," she said.
“Anyone who has been victim of a sexual offence - no matter when it was - should be reassured that Cleveland Police will always take such reports seriously. We WILL believe you, we WILL investigate thoroughly and we WILL support you from the moment you report a sexual offence, right through the court process.
"Everyone involved will do all they can to achieve justice for you.”
He added: "When Waite failed to appear at court for his original trial back in 2016, my first thoughts were for his victim who bravely came forward to report what happened all those years ago.
“When a second victim came forward, I was even more determined to do everything I could to bring him to justice."