Operation Gander

1982: Between November 1982 and May 1983 Operation Gander to investigate serious sexual offences in the county:

  • Two cases involved attacks by prospective purchaser on women at houses which were advertised for sale. The offender was arrested after a further offence at Grayswood.
  • Other offences occurred in Egham and Leatherhead which involved women being attacked in the street and threatened with a knife. These offences were not detected.
  • A further offence in which a woman was abducted at knife point and subjected to a serious sexual assault in Englefield Green was detected after an artist's impression of the offender led to the offender being identified.60

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1982: Operation Gander: Robert Taylor: Between Nov 82 and May 83. I was involved as joint office manager in the incident with a DS from the Metropolitan Police, the SIO was Mick Richardson.

The job basically centered around two specific offences at Ash and Staines where a male had visited homes for sale as an intended purchaser. On these two occasions lone females were at the properties and the offender committed sexual assaults on them. A lot of time was spent on searching for a black Ford Escort with reflective number plates seen on the Ash offence and the owners of all like cars were traced through Police National Computer and interviewed to no avail.

Despite all enquiries the incident room was closed down, other offences that had taken place at Leatherhead and Egham of serious sexual assaults in the street during the time the incident room was open were looked at but could not be connected to the house for sale offences.

I returned to my duties as DS at Godalming and some months later got called out to Grayswood in the early hours of the morning by Ted King. A female Charlotte Bass had been found bound and gagged in the bedroom of her house by police following an abandoned 999 call by a male, who said he had raped a woman and gave the address she was at.

From enquiries Ted and I made it transpired that the female worked for a company in Woking and her husband was away on a course. A work mate of hers a Mrs Blake the wife of a soldier stationed at Borden had invited her to dinner the previous evening at their Army quarters, her husband Richard Blake was also present for dinner but left to go out. When Charlotte returned to her home in Grayswood she was confronted by a masked man armed with a knife who took her to the bedroom and committed the offence.

Blake was arrested the following day by Ted and myself and eventually admitted the offence and was charged. It was while preparing his antecedents that it transpired that he used to live in the Ash area and that he had a yellow Ford escort and he didn't like the colour so painted it black.

Fortunately having been involved in Operation Gander this was very significant and when I put these offences to him he admitted being responsible for the house for sale offences at Ash and Staines. Further enquiries made by Ted and myself with his ex wife in Liverpool revealed that he had also committed bigamy. He later appeared at the Central Criminal Court and was sentenced to eight years.100

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60 Annual Report 1983.

100 Email from Robert Taylor 30 March 2010.

 

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