Sexual predator who followed woman off bus and attacked her is jailed for life after police catch him using facial recognition technology
- Craig Walters, 39, followed the young woman off a bus in Cardiff in 2019
- He attempted to drag her to a secluded spot before a passer-by intervened
- Police arrested him after using CCTV and a facial recognition software
A sexual predator who followed his victim off a bus and assaulted her has been jailed for life after police used CCTV and a facial recognition software to catch him.
Craig Walters, 39, followed the young woman off a bus in Cardiff late at night in November 2019 and attempted to drag her to a secluded spot before a passer-by intervened.
Footage showed Walters walking behind the woman along a road before grabbing her from behind and dragging her onto a patch of grass.
He was arrested within 48 hours of the attack on November 2019 after South Wales Police were able to analyse CCTV on the bus and match the image of the suspect to Walters using Retrospective Facial Recognition.
Walters, who pleaded guilty to false imprisonment with intent to commit a sexual offence, was given a life sentence and told he must serve a minimum of six years before he is eligible for parole.
Craig Walters, 39, followed the young woman off a bus in Cardiff and attacked her on November 2019
Detective Constable Dave Simmons, from Cardiff CID, said: ‘At around 10.50pm on Sunday, November 10, 2019 a young woman was followed off a bus on Pontprennau.
‘As she walked alongside a grass verge in Pentwyn Road, she was grabbed from behind by a complete stranger
‘She bravely tried to fight him off and screamed for help until thankfully a member of the public intervened and the suspect ran off. It must have been absolutely terrifying.
‘We gathered extensive CCTV from the area, including footage from the Cardiff Bus she has been travelling on, and this gave us an image of the suspect who had been on the same bus.
‘Using Retrospective Facial Recognition on this CCTV image we identified the suspect as Craig Walters – someone who was known to police.
‘I am in no doubt that we would have got to him eventually, but the use of retrospective facial recognition technology meant we got to him quicker and within 48 hours he was in custody.’
The officer went on to describe Walters as a ‘cold and dangerous individual who had shown no remorse’.
He added: ‘What happened has had a devastating effect on her but she has shown such bravery throughout and was fully prepared to give evidence at trial.
‘I would also like to thank the witness Luke Martin who assisted on the night as without his intervention I think we would have been dealing with an even more serious incident.
Footage showed Walters, who pleaded guilty to false imprisonment with intent to commit a sexual offence, boarding the bus on the night of the attack in 2019
Police officers were able to analyse CCTV on the bus and use retrospective facial recognition to identify Walters
‘Walters however is cold and dangerous individual who as shown no remorse and I believe he only pleaded guilty because of the strength of the evidence.
‘I hope the successful outcome of this investigation will give other victims the confidence to come forward.
‘As detectives we use all available technology to bring offenders to justice, and help and support is available to all victims.’
This week Cardiff Crown Court was told Walters had five previous convictions which began with indecent assault and attempted rape committed when he was just 15- years-old.
There were further offences of indecent assault in 1998 and GBH in 2001 but his last offence in 2005 for false imprisonment with intention to commit a sexual assault and kidnapping resulted in a life sentence with a minimum of 54 months.
He was released in June 2019 – just months before the latest offence.
Judge Michael Fitton QC described the defendant as ‘extremely predatory’ as he passed his sentence.
He told the court a transcript of his ruling would be sent to Walters so he could see exactly what was said about him in court.
Judge Fitton said: ‘The defendant was not here in court, but I will make my remarks. He was brought from prison, he is in the cells but he refused to come up, but was content that we should continue.’
The judge said he had no option but to sentence Walters to life imprisonment.
Walters must serve a minimum of six years before he can apply for parole, and was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge.