Justice finally catches up with rapist after DNA is left on bottle

Jailed: Philip Cunningham.
Jailed: Philip Cunningham.

DNA left on a bottle has allowed detectives to snare a rapist 13 years after he first attacked a woman.

Philip Cunningham raped a woman in her 40s in May 2004 when he dragged her into some bushes.

Several people came forward with information at the time but he was not caught.

DNA was taken from the victim’s skin but it didn’t match anyone on the database and the sample was kept.

In September last year, Cunningham assaulted a 16-year-old student near the Quad cinema in Derby in broad daylight as she walked to meet her mum after college.

A Derbyshire police spokesman said: "When she reported it to us, officers searched the area where the attack happened and found a discarded green bottle, which the victim remembered the attacker drinking from."

The bottle was sent for analysis and DNA on the bottle matched that from the 2004 Darley Park case. CCTV from Derby city centre captured Cunningham in the area at the time of the September crime and he was arrested.

Cunningham, 48, of Matlock Road, Chaddesden, pleaded guilty to one count of rape and another of sexual assault and was sentenced at Derby Crown Court yesterday to 13 years in prison.

Detective Sergeant Mike Sisman, of Derbyshire police, said: “These attacks were horrific for the victims, one of whom has finally seen justice more than 13 years after the crime.

“They have both been brave in talking to us and re-living what happened to them and I hope this lengthy sentence will give them some form of closure.

“Cunningham is a danger to the public and I’m pleased he is behind bars.”

Recorder Jason Macadam also handed Cunningham a sexual harm prevention order.