POLICE have set out the reasons why they released a man under investigation for a sexual assault in St Helens in 2018 after court was told last week how he had gone on to rape a 60-year-old woman in London.

Shakur Valentino, 24 who is currently serving 12 years behind bars for raping the woman on a London street, last Friday received an extra five and half years to run consecutively for the St Helens offence.

Liverpool Crown Court heard he had attacked a young woman in St Helens in December 2018.

However, after being released by police as an investigation was continuing, he committed the offence in London eight weeks later.

His lawyer Cheryl Mottram said there appeared to be “no rhyme or reason why the police and CPS had delayed matters with a postal requisition”.

The court heard that Valentino, of no fixed address but from the North West, had attacked the woman at her dad’s St Helens home in the early hours of December 9, 2018.

Just eight weeks later he targeted a 60-year-old cleaner near Kings Cross in London, dragged her into a side street and raped her in February, 2019.

Philip Astbury, prosecuting, had told the court at his sentencing last Friday that Valentino met the teenager while she and her friend were out socialising in St Helens on December 9, 2018.

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The couple were attracted to each other and they went back to her dad’s home at about 5.30am with her friend and his friend.

They had consensual sex but afterwards he wanted to have sex again.

She refused as she was tired and had to get up for work but he “refused to take no for an answer”.

When she cried out he put his hand over her mouth in an effort to silence her protests.

The Crown accepted it was an attempted rape “but it came as close as can be imagined,” he said.

Her friend who had heard her cry out came into the room and Valentino got off his victim who was so terrified.

At the police station he was found to have her knickers hidden in his boxer shorts. He had no explanation for this.

The court heard that he had taken a pair of leggings from his later victim.

In mitigation, his lawyer Miss Mottram, said that Valentino, who had been 21 at the time, had taken the leggings in haste rather than as a trophy.

St Helens Star:

Liverpool Crown Court

When asked by the Star about Valentino being released under investigation following his arrest in St Helens, Merseyside Police said that there "was not enough evidence to meet the threshold" to remand him in custody.

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: "Following a report of rape in December 2018 Shakur Valentino was arrested at the scene.

"He was interviewed by officers and released under investigation while further evidence was gathered. This included interviewing the victim, analysing medical evidence and mobile phone records.

"Gathering evidence, including ensuring that specially trained officers spoke with the victim to obtain a full account sensitively and patiently, is a process that can take time.

"Once officers had gathered this evidence, it was submitted to the CPS for a charging decision.

"At the time Valentino was interviewed, there was not enough evidence to meet the threshold set by the CPS to remand him in custody.

"Police therefore had no alternative but to release him under investigation while further enquires were carried out and evidence gathered.

"Valentino was later charged and jailed for five years, plus two years on licence for rape."

She added: "If you report a sexual offence, we will investigate it thoroughly and provide you with the utmost support throughout and will work tirelessly to put perpetrators before the courts.

"You can report a sexual offence allegation by calling 101 where you will be spoken to by specially trained officers or you can pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

"Support for victims is also available through the registered charity the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre Cheshire and Merseyside, who can be contacted on 01925 221 546 or 0330 363 0063 or Rape and Sexual Assault Merseyside (RASA) on 0151 558 1801."

A judge told Valentino last Friday that “a disturbing feature” of both the cases was that he “took trophies in the form of items [of clothing] as a reminder of your offending".

Judge Louise Brandon said that he had made derogatory remarks about both the women after the attacks which "disclosed your deep seated and disgraceful attitude to women and you thinking you can do whatever you want whenever you want when dealing with women".

The judge told Valentino, who appeared via video link from prison, that she struggled to accept he is genuinely remorseful having read a psychological report about him.

She said it was clear he had been affected by childhood traumas: “You are a very damaged young man.”

She said he had "sought to minimise your behaviour and you do not take full responsibility for it”.

In mitigation, his lawyer Miss Mottram, said that Valentino, who had been 21 at the time, had taken the leggings in haste rather than as a trophy.

She said: “It is clear he has suffered significant traumatic incidents in his youth which have clearly had an impact on his thinking and later life.”

He displayed inappropriate behaviour as a schoolboy and he has deficits in his thinking.

She said he now recognises: “He failed to understand or appreciate what she was saying to him at the time of the incident.

"It was almost like he had switched off and he became focused too much on his own wants and needs.”