Case study: Police failed to arrest rapist despite discovering he had victim’s phone

Rapist attacked again after police released him without charge. (Photo: Police via

The Metropolitan Police took no further action against a violent rapist despite having evidence connecting him to the crime.

James Isted, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in February 2014 for two violent ‘stranger’ rapes, was arrested by police after his first attack in 2011, when a car spotted by the victim before the rape was linked to him.

But he was released without charge due to a ‘lack of evidence’ after the victim, a teenage girl, was unable to identify him. He went on to rape a second woman in May 2013 in the same location as the first – a graveyard in Orpington, Kent.

The Bureau can reveal that Isted stole the teenager’s phone after the first attack. Detectives seized several phones from Isted after his arrest failed to check whether the victim’s phone was amongst them.

When officers eventually realised the victim’s phone had been in Isted’s possession they compounded their error by failing to re-arrest him, leaving him free to re-offend.

Related story: Police and prosecutors struggling to tackle a worrying decline in rape convictions

The Daily Mail has reported that a probation officer, who interviewed Isted after he was convicted, wrote: ‘Emboldened by the fact the police did not charge him for the first offence he carried out the second offence, believing he would not be detected’

The Met apologised to the second victim, admitting that mistakes were made.

A spokeswoman for the force said: ‘We voluntarily referred the matter to the IPCC who took the decision to return it to the MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] to be looked at locally.

That investigation, by officers from our Directorate of Professional Standards, is ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate to discuss further at this time.’