It was the day of the Luton Carnival last year. A day of celebration – the town coming together to celebrate diversity and communities.
Two young girls were watching the procession from a property in Luton when their lives were turned upside down.
While a parent slept, upstairs a stranger entered the house and indecently assaulted them.
Detective Constable Mo Hussain has blogged about the investigation into the incident, which featured on 24 Hours In Police Custody.
“I was given the investigation to oversee the day after it happened. It was a complex job to investigate right from the start, due to the lack of evidence and the age of the victims.
“One of the first things we did was to scour CCTV in the area. The local council’s CCTV was very much focused on the carnival; however we managed to find some CCTV which showed the property where the offence took place.
“Although the camera was focused in on the carnival crowd, in the corner of the screen we saw a man running out of the house – wearing similar clothes to the description that one of the victim’s gave.
“We managed to get great images of the suspect – but we were still no closer to finding out who he was. A media appeal didn’t turn up anything, and after a number of lines of inquiry which led nowhere, we were beginning to get disheartened.
“It was really puzzling me – he couldn’t just disappear into nowhere. Where did he go after he vanished from the CCTV screens?
“I visited the property and I walked each and every route that the victim could have taken. One of the routes took me into the car park of a supermarket, so I asked for their CCTV.
“I then spent time examining their CCTV in the time before and after the incident had happened until finally, I saw him.
“A man who looked very similar to the man in the original CCTV was seen getting in to the car, at a time frame not long after the crime was committed.
“Unfortunately the CCTV was not of good enough quality for us to work out the number plate, so instead we used automatic number plate recognition to find the details of 50 cars that entered and left the car park at around the same time of the incident.
“From those 50, we took the details of the car that we believed left the car park at around the same time as the car on CCTV, and ran them through our police national computer database. We couldn’t guarantee that this was the correct car, but we had to start somewhere.
“We found that the car was registered to a motoring company so our next port of call was to them, to find out who was legally insured to drive it.
“They told me it was a man called Martin Druce – then they showed me a photo.
“I almost fainted. The photo was almost identical to the man we’d seen on CCTV.
“We made a plan to visit him. If I recognised him in person, we would arrest him. If we weren’t sure, we’d ask him if he’d be willing to do a voluntary interview.
“We started early and as soon as we arrived at his house I knew that he was the man we’d seen on CCTV.
“A search of his house also resulted in finding the unique top that he had been seen wearing on the camera.
“We interviewed him and he gave a ‘no comment’ interview. Unfortunately this meant we didn’t yet have enough evidence to charge him and so he was bailed.
“While on bail, Druce visited a psychiatrist. While he was there he disclosed to them that he had committed the offences.
“They rang us and we were able to seize the medical documents.
“We re-interviewed him. Again – no comment. But when we went to the Crown Prosecution Service they authorised us to charge him.
“Fortunately he pleaded guilty, meaning the victims didn’t need to endure a trial, and he was sentenced to nine years in prison.
“It was so rewarding to hear he had such a long sentence. This was a really challenging job. We couldn’t identify him from CCTV alone – we had to build the case up. These types of cases are always difficult, especially when there’s young children involved, but it makes it all the more rewarding when we get a good result like this.
“I’m a shy person and I don’t like to be in front of the cameras, but this was such a good job by all involved that I wanted people to see it, I wanted them to witness first-hand the work we do to protect people.”
DC Hussain has been a police officer since 2005.
The incident he has blogged about featured in the ‘In Plain Sight’ episode of 24 Hours In Police Custody on Channel 4 on 8 June.