19 June 2024

Salisbury man finally brought to justice after raping 71-year-old woman 40 years ago

A Salisbury man has pleaded guilty to breaking into a 71-year-old woman’s house and subjecting her to a terrifying rape more than 40 years ago.

Kenneth Wells, 63, of Verona Road, Salisbury, appeared at Salisbury Crown Court today (1st September) and pleaded guilty to burglary, rape and false imprisonment.

Kenneth Wells

He was arrested in June of this year after officers from the Major Crime Investigation Team reopened the cold case into a horrifying crime that took place back in the early hours of 6th November 1980.

The victim, Violet Brown, lived alone in her home in Collingbourne Ducis and was woken by the sound of Wells breaking into the house and coming into her bedroom.

He then raped her before leaving the property and locking her inside.

She had to wait until morning before finally being able to alert her neighbours and the police.

Wells was arrested shortly after the incident and remained the prime suspect, but there was never enough evidence to lead to a charge. However, the file remained with Wiltshire Police and was re-examined over the years to see if there were any potential new leads.

Last summer, officers from the Major Crime Team reopened the cold case and re-examined the original investigation.

After a detailed re-investigation, and using the latest in DNA technology, they were able to confirm a direct match between the evidence recovered from the original scene and Kenneth Wells.

On 29th June 2021, he was arrested at his home address in Salisbury, and subsequently charged with burglary, rape and false imprisonment.

Sadly, Ms Brown died in February 1996, at the age of 87, without seeing her attacker brought to justice.

Senior Investigating Officer Detective Chief Inspector Darren Hannant, from the Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “There is no doubt that this horrendous attack had a lasting impact on Ms Brown, who had to live with the memory of this traumatic incident for the rest of her life. She was never comfortable in her own home after the attack and moved out a short time later; the effect on her quality of life was significant.

“Despite the fact that she is no longer alive, she has been at the forefront of all of our minds throughout this investigation, and we have been determined to crack this case to finally ensure the man responsible was arrested and convicted.”

Wells has been remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing on Friday 1st October.

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Written by
Beth Doherty
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Written by Beth Doherty