Leeds rapist jailed for life after pet shop raid

Stewart Exley.

Stewart Exley.

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A convicted rapist who robbed a terrified pet shop owner at knifepoint has been jailed indefinitely.

Stewart Exley, 45, threatened Helen Wolstenholme with a knife which she bravely grabbed and put in her pocket during the raid on Creature Comforts in Meanwood on May 20.

She took the knife after Exley put it on the counter as he rifled through the till.

Helen Wolstenholme called the police as Exley fled with £50 and her mobile phone and he was sniffed out by a police dog as he hid in the garage of a house on Church Avenue.

Recorder Nigel Sangster QC handed Exley an indeterminate sentence for the public’s protection after hearing he was a dangerous offender who robbed and raped a 60-year-old woman at knifepoint while on the run from prison 10 years ago.

Prosecutor Dave MacKay said Exley was jailed for six years in 1998 for knifepoint robberies on a building society and off-licence.

But in November 2001 he absconded from Wheelstun open prison near Wetherby and broke into a woman’s home in Moortown while high on drugs.

Exley shone a torch at the terrified woman’s face and told her not to look at him as he sexually abused and raped her.

In February 2002 a judge labelled Exley’s offence as “vile and appalling” as he jailed him for 12 years in addition to the six years he was already serving.

Exley was released from that sentence in October last year. Exley admitted the May robbery.

The court heard it was the second time Helen Wolstenholme’s pet store had been robbed in six weeks.

The court heard Exley was recalled to prison on licence after his arrest in May and ordered to serve the remainder of his previous sentence and is not due for release until 2016.

Recorder Sangster told Exley he will only be released when he is no longer deemed a danger to the public.

Paul Pilotille.

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