Shenley tree surgeon is jailed after raping schoolgirl, 15

The boy pleaded guilty at Watford Magisrates' Court

The boy pleaded guilty at Watford Magisrates' Court - Credit: Archant

A tree surgeon, who admitted raping a 15-year-old girl, tried to kill himself after being confronted by his wife, St Albans Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Dale Hyde, 42, climbed 25ft up a tree after fleeing the family home with a Stanley knife and a length of hosepipe.

Police tried to talk him down but he jumped, only to be caught in the lower branches. He climbed up a second time and landed on the ground, suffering only cuts and bruises.

Hyde, of Boswell Close, Shenley, who was of previous good character, pleaded guilty to raping the girl on December 27 last year.

Prosecutor Gary Venturi said the victim was staying on the sofa in Hyde’s home. He had drunk six to eight cans of Kronenbourg and had taken cocaine when he left his bedroom on four occasions to go to the living room.

He had previously kissed the girl and made personal comments about her. On the fourth night-time visit, he forced himself on her, saying: “Don’t tell your mum.”

Later that night, Hyde’s wife confronted him and the girl in the kitchen and she called the police. She was heard to tell Hyde, who was holding the Stanley Knife, to “go and slit your throat now”.

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Mr Venturi said Hyde drove off with a hosepipe but crashed the car before climbing the nearby tree.

He was arrested and made no comment to police questions.

Rose Burns, defending, said: “He is devastated by what he has done and through me wants to express his real shame and sorrow for the events of that evening.

“He was drunk and had taken cocaine. This is a one-off incident and it is totally out of character. It was a real aberration - a moment of madness.”

Judge Marie Catterson jailed him for seven years and made a sexual harm prevention order, banning him from having unsupervised contact with girls under 18 or having a job with children. He must also register as a sex offender for life.

She told him: “It was appalling behaviour.”