Bedford man pleads guilty to two 1990s rapes following cold case review

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

A man from Bedford has pleaded guilty to raping two women, after DNA evidence matched him to the offences that took place more than 20 years ago.

Yesterday (Tuesday), at Luton Crown Court, Prem Chandra, formerly known as Putul Nath, 46, of St Leonard’s Avenue, Bedford, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in relation to offences against a 14-year-old girl on 25 June 1996, and a 26-year-old woman on 30 July 1997.

Prosecutor, Peter Shaw, said Chandra must now register as a sex offender. He asked the judge to order that he hands in his passport by Thursday 16 January.
Judge Bright bailed him to reappear for sentence on 9 March with the condition that he hands in his passport to Kempston police station.
The judge said, “He has pleaded guilty to two extremely serious offences. He will know that the ultimate sentence is bound to be a lengthy custodial one – the question is what length?”

Forensic evidence recovered during both investigations did not match with any offenders at the time, but Chandra’s DNA profile, from samples taken when he was convicted for another offence in 2008, was eventually traced through work carried out under Operation Painter; a review of undetected rapes and sexual offences which occurred between 1974 and 1999.

Today marks the fifth conviction under Operation Painter, which was launched in 2016.

Detective Inspector Emma Pitts, of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, who investigated these cases, said, “Chandra’s victims have lived with the memory of their horrific ordeals for more than two decades, while their attacker evaded capture.

“He will now be brought to account for these abhorrent crimes and we must thank the victims for their bravery and their assistance in bringing these cases to court, and hope the outcome is able to provide some form of closure.

“We take such reports extremely seriously, and it is never too late to report a sexual assault.”

Victims of rape and sexual assault can receive support and guidance from Bedfordshire Police and partner agencies including the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), as well as support through the criminal investigation process, regardless of how long ago the offence occurred.

If you have been a victim of sexual assault, reports can be made to police on 101. You can also contact SARC through the Emerald Centre, by visiting, emailing or calling 01234 897052.

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