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Express hands out £5,000 reward for rapist clue

The Kentish Express is handing over a £5,000 reward to the courageous woman who led police to serial rapist Antoni Imiela.

Neighbour Kathy Sherwood, from Appledore, near Ashford in Kent, made the important call having seen an e-fit of the wanted man in the newspaper.

Imiela was convicted at Maidstone Crown Court three weeks ago for multiple rape, kidnap, indecent assault and attempted rape.

Editor Brian Lewis said: “The Kentish Express was aware from the start of the enormity of the horror of Imiela’s first attack on a young Ashford girl.

“We thought long and hard about how we could contribute towards his capture.

“Appealing to the community was the only way, and we hoped that by adding an incentive, someone would come forward.”

It was just two weeks after Imiela, (49), claimed his first victim, a 10-year-old Ashford girl, in November 2001 that the Kentish Express put up the reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the rapist.

It would stay unclaimed for more than a year until Kathy made her call to a crime helpline and sent detectives on the trail of her neighbour in November 2002. He was arrested and charged a month later.

Kathy said: “We used to get the Kentish Express and watch the news – and when I saw the e-fit I knew it was him.

“I was afraid, but I plucked up the courage and rang. I gave his name, address and what time he came in.

“I couldn’t let women and children get hurt any longer.”

The senior investigating officer in the Imiela case, former Det Supt Colin Murray, said: “Kathy Sherwood telephoned as a consequence of the publicity and that led to the breakthrough in us going to swab him.

“In my mind her call prevented Imiela from carrying on offending and prevented further victims being attacked.

“Any offer of a reward is obviously of benefit to us because it may lead to that one vital phone call, which in this case it did.

“The coverage from the Kentish Express and the support we had from the newspaper was tremendous throughout the whole inquiry.

“The nature of the offences meant everybody from the public to the press wanted this man caught. The support of the media makes our job far easier.”

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