Chessington rapist Robert Richards 'bullied in prison' before suspected suicide

Robert Richards died on July 29 days before he was due to be sentenced for raping and attempting to kill a pensioner

Robert Richards died on July 29 days before he was due to be sentenced for raping and attempting to kill a pensioner

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The rapist who tried to kill a Chessington pensioner last year was bullied in prison and prescribed anti-depressants before his apparent suicide, a court has heard.

Robert Richards, 22, was convicted in June of raping and attempting to murder a woman in her 70s last October.

He died last week after being found unresponsive in his cell at Wandsworth Prison.

At a final Kingston Crown Court hearing yesterday, the court was told Richards experienced "depressive" symptoms after the suicide of his cell mate in March.

A psychiatric report prepared for Richards' sentencing said: "[The symptoms] appear to be responding well to a low dose of anti-depressant medicine."

The cell mate is understood to have been Anthony Ian Pearson, 51, who was found dead in the cell on Monday, March 3.

At the hearing prosecutor Jonathan Loades said Richards left a short note.

He said: "It indicated that he had been bullied - I think that is one way of putting it - during the time that he was in prison."

Richards, of Pear Tree Close, Chessington, was taken to St George's Hospital in Tooting at about 9am on Tuesday, July 29, and put on life support.

He died at about 9.50pm the same day.

Closing the file on Richards and commenting on the bravery of his victim, Judge Nicholas Price QC said: "In my experience both at the Bar and on the bench I have never had to deal with a case of such gravity, with a victim of that age and in such frail health.

"She has to be commended for her courage in giving evidence in the way in which she did before the jury."

The four police officers involved in the case were commended by Mr Loades for their "diligence, tenacity and professionalism" throughout the investigation and trial.

They are: Det Insp Nicky Arrowsmith; Det Sgt Melissa Laremore; Det Con Helen Rainbow; and PC Eileen Larrigan.

Det Insp Arrowsmith said after the hearing: "I would rather spend today focusing on and giving tribute to the courage of the victim in this case, who is now getting on with her life.

"This type of crime is extremely rare. [Officers] will continue to pursue people that commit offences as abhorrent as this."

A post-mortem examination was carried out on Richards on Thursday.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is investigating both his death and that of Mr Pearson.

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