1989 Maida Vale babysitter rapist snared after DNA match

Material from scene helps track down intruder who attacked woman as three-year-old child hid

A rapist who attacked a woman at knifepoint as she baby-sat two young children in Maida Vale in 1989 has finally been jailed after a forensic breakthrough.

Dunston Crichlow, 49, made his way into the house and raped the woman.

The 21-year-old victim was so traumatised that she suffered a mental breakdown from which she has never recovered.

The former crane driver was caught after Met police re-examined the crime as part of their investigative review process.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to rape and aggravated burglary.

The woman was looking after a three-year-old and an eight-month-old on March 2, the court heard. After feeding the children, they all settled down to watch a video when the doorbell rang at about 2.45pm. The victim answered the door while holding the younger child.

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The man at the door, Crichlow, asked: “Is Charlie there?” to which the victim told him nobody of that name lived at the address.

He replied: “I thought I saw him upstairs”. The woman said she was baby-sitting and the occupiers would be home later that day.

Crichlow then stepped forward and said he would leave his number. But when she looked down, the woman noticed he was holding a knife.

He said: “Where’s the money, take me to the money” before taking her by the elbow and pushing her along the hallway and upstairs.

After searching the main bedroom and the children’s bedroom, he took the victim back to the main bedroom where he forced her onto the bed and raped her while the three-year-old hid under a table nearby.

Crichlow then tied her hands and ankles with clothing before taking a scarf and tying it around her mouth.

The victim thanked him for not killing her, to which he replied: “Yeah I could have.”

When Crichlow left the house, she managed to “shuffle” her way down the stairs to phone for help.

No suspect was identified for the assault until a forensic review was undertaken in 2007 with retained material that identified Crichlow as a suspect.

He had previously committed a similar offence in Bath in 1988 for which he was sentenced to 12 years in 1991, plus two years for other robbery offences.

He was released on licence in 1999 and his name was placed on the sex offenders’ register.

After being arrested for the Maida Vale rape in December 2008, Crichlow initially pleading not guilty to the charges before changing his plea in court.

He was sentenced to nine years for rape and six years for aggravated burglary to run at the same time. He will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.

DS Michael McInerney said: “This was a most callous and violent attack on a vulnerable female who at the time of the offence was caring for two young children.

“It is likely that Dunston Crichlow believed he had evaded capture for this most serious offence.

However, through the use of enhanced DNA technology, it has assisted this investigation in bringing this individual to justice some 22 years later.”