Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Peter Pickering: 'Beast of Wombwell' guilty of 1972 rape

Peter Pickering Image copyright Other
Image caption Peter Pickering (pictured here in 1972) lured the woman into his van as she walked to work before attacking her

A convicted child killer dubbed the Beast of Wombwell has been found guilty of raping of a woman just weeks before he raped and killed a schoolgirl.

Peter Pickering, 80, raped and abducted the then-18-year-old in 1972 after luring her into his van.

Weeks later, he raped and killed schoolgirl Shirley Boldy, 14. He admitted her manslaughter and has been under a hospital order since.

Jurors at Leeds Crown Court took just two hours to return guilty verdicts.

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Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Pickering has been detained under a hospital order since he admitted killing Shirley Boldy

The court heard Pickering had picked the woman up in his van as she walked to work in the Stocksbridge area of South Yorkshire.

Now in her sixties, the woman said that after getting in to the van voluntarily Pickering had driven to a secluded spot where he went "berserk".

He switched from being being amiable and pleasant to acting like a "mad man", she said, handcuffing her burning her breasts with cigarettes and said "I suppose I'm going to have to kill you now."

The woman said: "I was stunned into silence. I just thought I was going to die. I had no doubt in my mind that was what he intended."

'Sex maniac proper'

Jurors heard how, three to four weeks after the attack, Pickering abducted, raped and killed Shirley Boldy in Barnsley.

The woman told jurors she did not think she would have been believed if she had reported the attack in the 1970s, and had to be persuaded by police to co-operate in 2016.

She said: "I remain of the fervent belief that whether he has a mental illness or not the man is a monster and wherever he is now that's the right place for him to be."

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Police found handcuffs believed to have been used in the attack in a garage Pickering used in Sheffield

The court heard Pickering was caught when police were alerted by comments he made to doctors found in medical notes.

They also found a pair of handcuffs, believed to have been used in the attack on the woman, and exercise books filled with Pickering's fantasies in a garage he rented in Sheffield.

One of the messages said: "Sex is predominant in my mind, eclipsing all else. Maybe I will be a sex maniac proper. Rape, torture, kill."

Image caption Peter Pickering admitted the manslaughter by diminished responsibility of Shirley Boldy, 14, in 1972

Pickering, who did not give evidence during the trial, is due to be sentenced at a later date.

The judge, Mr Justice Goss, said he needed new reports on the defendant's mental state to be prepared.

He told Pickering, who appeared by video link and was seen leaning on a walking stick, that he would be subject to his continuing hospital order until a date for sentencing is fixed.

Pickering's barrister, Sasha Wass QC, asked the judge if her client could be sentenced in Reading or Swindon - closer to Thornford Park Hospital, in Berkshire, where he is being held.

Det Supt Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "His victim has had to live a lifetime of knowing that Pickering, while not at large, had not answered for the dreadful and terrifying ordeal he put her through on that evening."

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