Kentish Express: £5,000 reward
A serial rapist has been jailed with the help of Kent Messenger-owned weekly the Kentish Express.
This week the paper handed over a reward for £5,000 to reader Kathy Sherwood, after information she supplied led to the conviction of Antoni Imiela.
Sherwood called the police after she saw an e-fit of Imiela in the Express and recognised him as her neighbour.
The Express revealed the full story following Imiela’s conviction at Maidstone Crown Court for multiple rape, kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape.
Retired Det Supt Colin Murray, Kent Police’s senior investigating officer, said: “Kathy Sherwood telephoned as a consequence of the publicity and that led to the breakthrough in us going to swab him.
“In my mind her call prevented Imiela from carrying on offending and prevented further victims being attacked. “Any offer of a reward is obviously of benefit to us because it may lead to that one vital phone call, which in this case it did. “The coverage from the Kentish Express and the support we had from the newspaper was tremendous throughout the whole inquiry. “The nature of the offences meant everybody from the public to the press wanted this man caught. The support of the media makes our job far easier.”
The weekly put up its reward two weeks after Imiela, 49, from Appledore, first struck – attacking a 10year-old Ashford girl.
Twelve months later, Sherwood made her call to a crime helpline.
Kentish Express editor Brian Lewis said: “The Kentish Express was aware from the start of the enormity of the horror of Imiela’s first attack on the young Ashford girl.
“We thought long and hard about how we could contribute towards his capture. Appealing to the community was the only way, and we hoped that by adding an incentive, someone would come forward.”
Sherwood said: “We used to get the Kentish Express and watch the news and when I saw the e-fit I knew it was him. “I was afraid, but I plucked up the courage and rang. I gave his name, address and what time he came in. “I couldn’t let women and children get hurt any longer.”
By Dominic Ponsford