A van driver who raped a woman in Gravesend has been jailed for eight years.

Andrew Mills deceived the victim into accepting a lift home after he noticed her in a distressed state in the town centre. Instead of taking her home, he subjected her to prolonged ordeal in his vehicle.

Upon escaping, the victim used her concealer to write down his number plate and her quick thinking helped Kent Police officers quickly locate and arrest him. 

The 61-year-old, of Granville Road, Gravesend, denied two counts of rape, and three other sexual offences, but was found guilty of each offence following a trial at Woolwich Crown Court.

He was sentenced at the same court on Wednesday 14 July 2021.

At around 12.30am on Tuesday 6 August 2019, several people approached the victim in Campbell Road after noticing she was distressed following the theft of her mobile phone.

Mills joined the small group who were attempting to help her, and offered to drive her home in his van. His offer was accepted and it was during this journey the offences were committed until the victim convinced Mills to allow her to get out.

She alerted the police at 2am and, after providing the number plate details, a patrol was able to locate Mills’ van parked near to his home address on the same morning.

They then knocked on his door and, during a conversation in the street, he admitted being with the victim. He was arrested on suspicion of rape and taken into custody. 

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Ross Gurden, said: ‘Mills has shown himself to be an opportunistic predator who poses an extreme danger to women.

‘It would have been abundantly clear to him that the victim was distressed and vulnerable, and he exploited this in the worst and most deceitful way imaginable.

‘Despite being put through a traumatic ordeal, the victim showed exceptional courage in managing to get out of the van and had commendable presence of mind in quickly using her concealer to write down his registration number.

‘I am pleased that we have now secured justice for her. While nothing is going to undo the harm Mills has caused, I sincerely hope that she can take a degree of reassurance from the result of this case.’

Detective Inspector Ross Gurden

By Ed