Man acquitted of attempted murder of Qingqing Rao in Dagenham but convicted of wounding with intent

Barry Peacham Picture: Met Police

Barry Peacham Picture: Met Police - Credit: Met Police

A man has been acquitted of trying to kill a city worker who was stabbed during a violent robbery near her home in Dagenham.

Qingqing Rao requires around the clock care (Pic: Met Police)

Qingqing Rao requires around the clock care (Pic: Met Police) - Credit: Archant

Today at the Old Bailey Barry Peacham was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Qingqing Rao who was robbed in Castle Green Park, on February 13 this year.

But he was convicted of wounding with intent and of robbing the 30-year-old business analyst before fleeing with her handbag, phone and computer tablet.

Ms Rao is in a persistent vegetative state after she was knifed in the head and vagina and requires round-the-clock care in a nursing home.

She is unlikely to recover from her injuries.

Peacham, who had denied carrying any wrongdoing, was also found guilty of possession of a knife.

Jurors were told how Ms Rao, was still wearing her Apple earphones when she was found with serious injuries in the park.

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Meanwhile, 26-year-old Peacham had gone back to his then-home in nearby Maplestead Road, where he was described as being out of breath, wearing gloves, with a rip in his jeans and walking with a limp.

The victim’s credit cards and John Lewis gift card were later recovered from a nearby drain, having been dropped there by Peacham in the aftermath of the robbery.

Her glittery red iPhone case and Tommy Hilfiger purse were also found later and identified by her devastated husband as belonging to his wife. However, her computer was never recovered.

Giving evidence, Peacham, of no fixed address, denied the charges against him and claimed someone else was responsible.

Speaking with a pronounced stutter, he described how he had been drinking, smoking cannabis, and hanging around in the park.

Peacham claimed he injured himself by falling off a moped and picked up another laptop - not belonging to Ms Rao - which he found on the grassy verge of a footpath near the park.

Following the conviction, Detective Chief Inspector Gary Holmes said: “To me this is a crime of pure evil.

“On that night he has effectively ended the life of a 30-year-old lady, who was on her way home from work, in the most brutal and vicious manner, stabbing her in the head, penetrating her brain.

“The stab wound to the vaginal area is incredibly depraved and vile.

“Peacham is one of the most dangerous men I have ever dealt with in my police career, which spans over 28 years.

“He has lied upon lied upon lied in evidence. His whole defence is predicated on lies and dishonesty.”

During the trial, the court heard how weapons-obsessed Peacham had previous convictions dating back to 2008, when he ran at people with a knife at the now closed Goresbrook Leisure Centre’s swimming pool.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing on November 24.

In a statement, Ms Rao’s husband Ansgar Wenzel said: “On the night of February 13 this year, while on the way back from work, my wife of less than six months, my partner for ten years, my best friend, was brutally assaulted, robbed and stabbed several times a few metres from our home.

“Since then, she has been in a coma from which she will never wake up from. She was cruelly taken away from me the day before Valentine’s Day, a few days before our ten-year anniversary, for nothing more than her handbag and its contents.”

He called her a “wonderful, warm-hearted and happy girl” who had grown up in rural China and arrived in the UK in 2002, speaking very little English.

“After less than three years, she had finished five A-Levels, all in the high 90 per cent, and obtained a place to study mathematics at Imperial College, a remarkable achievement in its own right but all the more impressive considering where she started out from,” he said. “It was there that I first met her and at some point in second year, we started dating.

“I would not miss a single day of the almost ten years we have shared; I will always remember how she smiled and turned her head laughing in the morning of February 13 when she left for work; the goodbye kiss is one I will always cherish.”

Mr Wenzel thanked the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the criminal justice system for their efforts and added: “While it won’t help Qingqing or improve her condition and, while I am still in a state of purgatory, I am delighted that justice has been served and finally, I also hope that at some point he stops being ‘a coward’ and takes some responsibility for what he has done.”