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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Footpath rapist's jail term cut
Police helicopter footage of rapist's capture
A police helicopter camera took footage of the rapist's capture

A rapist who was chased and caught by passers-by after he attacked a woman on a County Durham footpath has been granted a reduction in his sentence.

In July 2006, 20-year-old Martin Walsh was surrounded in Tanfield when his victim broke free and raised the alarm.

He was jailed for life at Durham Crown Court with a minimum term of six years for two rapes and an indecent assault.

London's Appeal Court ruled this was too long for an indeterminate sentence, reducing it to four-and-a-half years.

Mrs Justice Cox said his offences did not fall in the category of "a campaign of rape involving several victims", though the life sentence was still justified.

During the November trial, the court heard Walsh was "drunk and angry" when he dragged the young woman into bushes and threatened to kill her before carrying out what was described as a series of sickening attacks.

His victim eventually freed herself and fled semi-naked before being helped by two youths who were cycling past.

Martin Walsh
Walsh will be able to apply for parole in three years' time

Adam Barker, aged 17, and 16-year-old Johnathan Stoker took a description of Walsh and tracked him down before alerting allotment holders who surrounded him and detained him until police arrived.

Judge Tim Hewitt awarded both boys 200 from public funds and praised their actions in helping the victim.

The teenagers were later presented with the Shrievalty Award by the High Sheriff of Durham.

Walsh, from Blakes Close in Stanley, admitted two charges of rape, one charge of assault by penetration and one charge of attempting to choke, suffocate or strangle with intent to rape.

Because he spent four months in custody before his sentencing, he will be able to apply for parole in three years, but will only be released if he is no longer deemed a threat to the public.


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