A “dangerous predator” is behind bars after one of his victims saw his photo in a regional news website’s round-up of “67 prolific sex offenders”.
Cornwall Live included former scaffolder William Pope (pictured) in the November 2017 article soon after he was initially jailed for a string of indecent and sexual assaults on girls.
A further victim of Pope, who he attacked aged just 13 in 2003, contacted police after spotting his image in the list, which is no longer available following the loss of the title’s online archives with its “Live” website launch.
A new case was built against Pope, 58, and last month he admitted the historic sexual assault just days before he had been due to be released from jail.
He was sentenced to a further six and a half years in prison at Truro Crown Court yesterday.
Cornwall Live court reporter Chris Matthews, who covered the case, told Press Gazette it showed how important it is for justice to be done in public.
“It’s nice to know that it’s not just for people’s nosiness, court stuff, but it can serve a purpose as well,” Matthews said.
“Obviously I wouldn’t wish that on anyone and it’s ruined the poor girl’s life but at the same time it’s nice to know that some good has come of it and she’ll hopefully get a little bit of closure now.”
Matthews added it was nice to know Cornwall Live had played a part in keeping Pope behind bars.
“We get a fair amount of stick, not just me but journalists in general, so it was nice to know that some positive came out of it,” he said.
“If the victim didn’t spot him on the list then he’d be out walking the streets now so that’s quite a nice thought.
“Obviously she’s been the one who was courageous enough to speak up and get him prosecuted so she’s done a lot more than we have, but at the same time it’s nice to have played a little part along the way.”
In a statement shared by Devon and Cornwall Police, the victim said: “I feel relieved that finally he will pay for his crime and that he can’t hurt anyone else and will remain behind bars.
“As for the press, I want to say thank you because without that article he would be walking free right now, my attacker wouldn’t have a name. To be able to say to myself ‘this happened to me and this person did it and he’s been convicted’ is something I never thought I would be able to say.”
Matthews told Press Gazette one of Pope’s previous victims, who testified against him in 2017, also got in touch with him last night.
“She was saying she still fears he’s going to turn up and do whatever to her so she said it’s good to know that he’s still inside for another three years,” he said.
DC Joel Brown, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said the victim in the latest case was “100 per cent clear” the image she saw of Pope in the Cornwall Live article was her attacker, who the force described as a “dangerous predator”.
The victim was later able to pick out Pope during a police identification procedure and he also has a “striking resemblance” to an e-fit image produced according to her description 16 years ago, police said.
Officers were able to prove Pope had given a false alibi that he had been at work at the time of the incident, as time records showed he had taken the afternoon off, while the description of the suspect as “dusty or dirty” as though he had been on a building site matched his work as a scaffolder.
DC Brown said: “The victim in this case has shown extreme bravery and strength in re-contacting police having struggled for many years.
“The message is clear; it does not matter how much time passes, we will always explore fresh lines of enquiry and seek to put those responsible before the courts.”
Picture: Devon and Cornwall Police