The local policing commander called it a 'truly awful crime'
A teenage boy has been jailed for the rape of a 10-year-old girl in Exmouth last year.
The girl was attacked on Marley Road in the town as she was walking home on Thursday 4 October.
Following a major police response and media appeal, the 17-year-old boy - who was 16 at the time and cannot be named for legal reasons - was found and arrested the following day.
He was sentenced to 7 years in prison at Bristol Crown Court, with an extended licence of 8 years.
Superintendent Matt Lawler, the local policing commander, said: “This understandably attracted significant public concern, and it is worth reflecting upon how the community of Exmouth came together in response to what was a genuinely shocking incident.
“During the investigation, extra neighbourhood officers and PCSOs were deployed into Exmouth to reassure the community, particularly around schools, and to provide support to parents and young people.
“Both the Major Crime Investigation Team and Crown Prosecution Service have worked tirelessly to bring this truly awful crime to a closure in court today.
“I would also acknowledge the support of local media - the publishing of our appeals led directly to a key witness coming forward and to the arrest being made within 30 minutes of that new information being available.”
Supt Lawler continued: “The victim at the centre of all our thoughts has shown truly remarkable courage and resilience. She has a hugely supportive family around her, who in turn are supported by friends and professionals. That support will continue long into the future.
“The family have asked me to pass on their thanks to the entire investigation team, and to their Family Liaison Officer for her care and support.
“Whilst we really appreciate the messages of support that have been received, we now ask that the whole family are permitted their privacy. The girl has legal anonymity for life and must not be named by anyone. We hope that everyone will allow the family the time and space they need to try to move forward with their lives.”
Senior Investigating Officer DI Steve Davies from the Major Crime Investigation Team said: “The victim and her family have demonstrated remarkable courage and strength through what has been a complex investigation. I would like to thank them, our colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service, and my investigation team for their tenacity.
“We have all fought extremely hard to see justice done here today. Understandably, this case has had an impact on everyone involved, including my investigation team, most of whom are parents themselves.
“We hope the sentence today provides the opportunity for the victim and her family, who have remained so composed and dignified throughout the legal process, to start to look forward.”
Mark Haddow, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the CPS, said: “This was a truly horrific crime against a young victim who has shown tremendous bravery as the case was brought first to trial and then retrial.
“The nature of the offence, and its impact on the victim, her family and the community, motivated everyone involved. The police and their Major Crime Investigation Team worked extremely hard with the CPS to build the case, and their work went above and beyond what might have been expected of them. I hope that the outcome today will allow the family to feel that justice has been done”.