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Swanley man jailed for raping schoolgirl 16 years ago
A SWANLEY man has been sentenced to eight years in jail for raping a schoolgirl 16 years ago.
Oliver Bernard, of Lullingstone Avenue, was sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday (October 12) for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, after the case was re-opened in 2010 by the Met's Sapphire command detectives.
On January 25, 1996 the victim was approached by 47-year-old Bernard as she walked along Christchurch Road in Lambeth.
After asking her for money and a cigarette and being refused, he attempted to engage her in conversation.
She initially spoke to him but became wary and attempted to leave.
Bernard put his hand over her mouth and threatened to cut her throat if she screamed, before placing a knife to her throat and dragging her into a nearby garage area where he raped her.
Following the incident he attempted to follow her from the scene, but slipped on some ice and fell into a nearby bush. The victim was able to run home and raise the alarm.
Despite numerous inquiries by police, no suspect was identified at the time but the case was re-opened 14 years later by detectives from the cold case Sapphire unit.
Original samples resulted in a hit on the database for Bernard, who had previously been arrested.
The victim, now in her 30s, was approached by officers and agreed to assist with the police prosecution.
On March 12 Bernard was arrested on suspicion of rape and taken to Lewisham police station. He was charged with rape and pleaded guilty.
Detective Constable Andy Beete, from the cold case team, said: "Bernard was a particularly callous individual who subjected his young victim to the most awful of ordeals.
"I am pleased it has been possible to bring him to justice and commend the victim's bravery in supporting this prosecution.
"It is highly likely Bernard has committed further sexual offences and I am releasing his image today in the hope anyone who recognises him as a suspect contacts the Sapphire cold case team on 020 7161 1034.
"To remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."
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