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'Wicked' rapist to serve indefinite jail term

DET CH INSP TONY THOMAS: "Stephen Gale’s victim has been incredibly brave..."
STEPHEN GALE: told his victim to do exactly as he told her or he would kill her

A SERIAL sex offender who raped a woman in a multi-storey car park just one day after being released from prison has been jailed indefinitely.

Stephen Gale, 33, followed the woman from a train at Tunbridge Wells to the car park in Vale Road in February this year.

It was the same car park where the body of Terry Edmonds, 17, was found murdered and dumped in a suitcase the previous year.

Maidstone Crown Court was told that just hours earlier Gale, who has spent the past 11 years in and out of prison for sexual offences, had signed on the sex offenders’ register at Tonbridge police station.

The victim, who cannot be identified, had a knife held to her stomach throughout her ordeal and feared she would die.

Jailing Gale for the protection of the public, with a minimum term of five years and 261 days, Judge Andrew Patience, QC, said that it was "hard to foresee a time" when Gale would be considered safe to be released.

"Such wicked, cruel and degrading conduct as you made your victim suffer on that night deserves only the severest penalty, both to punish you and to deter and serve as a warning to others," he added. "You are, in short, a danger to women."

On February 1, Gale, who had shaved his body hair to his knees, and the woman travelled on the same train and arrived at Tunbridge Wells at 9.30pm.

Anne Phillips, prosecuting, said as the woman left the station, Gale "matched her pace for pace". She walked up stairs knowing that Gale was behind her.

At one point, Gale walked past her. But as she approached her car Gale went towards her. He blocked her path and warned: "Do exactly as I say or I will kill you."

Gale pressed a red-handled knife into her stomach. He became more forceful, before moving her back towards the foyer area of the stairwell and lifts.

He then raped her. Gale stroked her face and grabbed her hair, forcing her onto her knees, before ordering her to perform a sex act on him.

Without warning, he said: "I’m bored with all this" and walked off. The woman ran to her car and drove to Tunbridge Wells police station. Gale admitted rape and assault by penetration.

Speaking after the court hearing, Det Ch Insp Tony Thomas said: "Stephen Gale’s victim has been incredibly brave and I hope that she may now get some comfort from knowing that he is behind bars and unable to hurt anyone else.

"Gale is a dangerous man and we are all very pleased that he cannot pose a further threat to women."

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