A “barbaric and wicked” rapist who bludgeoned a woman with a paving slab on his 17th birthday and then left her for dead has been found guilty of attempted murder.
A judge ruled that Charlie John Pearce’s identity should be revealed to the public after the teenager – who “came within a hair’s breadth” of killing his victim – was unanimously convicted at Leicester Crown Court.
Jurors were told that Pearce searched for internet videos depicting the rape of “helpless” women in the weeks leading up to the late-night attack in Leicester’s Victoria Park.
Although he denied any intention to kill the woman, Pearce admitted two counts of rape, causing grievous bodily harm with intent, and stealing the victim’s handbag, which he later tried to burn.
The victim, aged in her 20s, suffered “truly dreadful” head injuries at the hands of Pearce, who was captured on CCTV running towards the victim.
In a statement issued by Leicestershire Police after the case, the victim – praised by officers for her “humbling” fortitude – told how she woke from a coma weeks later, unaware of what had happened to her.
Security cameras at a property nearby showed the teenager calmly stepping into a driveway to avoid a police patrol answering a 999 call from witnesses who heard “thudding” noises as the woman was attacked at about 11.35pm on July 3.
The court heard Pearce, who will be 18 in seven months’ time, had dragged the victim into undergrowth, where she was found around an hour later by a cyclist who spotted a pool of blood.
CCTV image of Charlie John Pearce running through Leicester’s Victoria Park clutching the paving slab (Leicestershire Police/PA)
Trial judge Mr Justice Haddon-Cave ordered that Pearce, of Clarendon Park, Leicester, should be named after the Press Association and BBC argued that naming him would be in the public interest and have a powerful deterrent effect.
The defendant, who had been drinking in a pub, was linked to the attack by “one-in-a-billion” DNA matches after his family contacted the police following a media appeal.
In his closing speech to the jury, prosecutor Gordon Aspden said the attack was an attempt to “silence” the victim.
Adjourning sentence on Pearce, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said: “You have been found guilty of attempted murder by the jury on overwhelming evidence.
“I am going to adjourn sentence on you in order to obtain reports – it would be in your interests to co-operate with the preparation of those reports.
“In view of the gravity of your crimes, you can expect a lengthy sentence.”