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Five Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers and a member of staff, have been awarded Chief Constable Commendations for their exceptional police work as part of Operation Horsley – the investigation of a linked series of serious sexual offences involving young girls and an elderly woman.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes, presented recently retired Detective Superintendent Howard Millington, DS Andy Wright, DC John Dineen, DC Andy Kiddie and DC Mark Robertson with their commendations during a small presentation ceremony at Hough End.
Operation Horsley was a complex investigation that began on Friday 15 November 2019, when DS Andy Wright and his team in Bury CID received a report that a young girl had been sexually assaulted by an intruder at an address in Radcliffe.
DS Wright quickly assembled his team and set a series of immediate actions which subsequently led to visual identification of the offender – who would later be identified as Jason Bursk – and the recovery of his DNA.
On reviewing the evidence, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Millington approached GMP's Media Office for communications support. Media Officer Jonathan Bell, who has also been presented with a Chief Constable Commendation, worked closely with the team to develop and implement a comprehensive media strategy which began with a public appeal alongside stills taken from the CCTV footage. The appeal received an overwhelming public response and enabled officers to identify, and later arrest Bursk on suspicion of rape, sexual assault of a child and trespassing with intent to commit a sexual offence.
Thanks to the team’s meticulous work and intelligence gathering, a serial sexual predator was identified and they were able to link Bursk to numerous other serious sexual offences and instances of trespassing with the motive of committing a sexual offence - which had been previously reported as suspected attempted burglaries.
Bursk was eventually charged with a total of sixteen offences which took place at separate addresses across Radcliffe, including the sexual assault of a young girl in January 2012 and the sexual assault of a woman in her 70’s while she was asleep at her home in November 2018.
On Wednesday 15 July 2020, the team’s unswerving dedication to the investigation and comprehensive presentation of evidence to court led to a successful conviction, when Bursk was sentenced to 15 years with an additional five years on extended licence, after pleading guilty to 11 offences relating to eight incidents which took place between January 2012 and November 2019.
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Sykes, who presented the team with their commendations, said: “It was a privilege to hand out commendations to the Operation Horsley team. Their conduct throughout the investigation was exemplary and it was great to be able to thank them in person for their hard work. They should be very proud of their actions, as there’s no doubt Bursk planned to carry out further offences, but is thankfully unable to do so, due to this investigation.”
Former Detective Superintendent, Howard Millington, said: “I personally would like to thank all the officers involved in the investigation including colleagues from the CCTV Retrieval Unit and Forensic Services; but I would like to extend a special thank-you to DS Andy Wright and his team from Bury CID, for their selflessness and commitment to the case and for the sensitive way in which they supported the victims and their families. All credit goes to the team involved who represent the very best of GMP. As a result of their efforts, Radcliffe - a small close knit community in Bury - is a safer place.”
Greater Manchester is nationally recognised as a model of good practice in terms of support services available to victims. If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police, or a support agency so you can get the help and support available.
-Greater Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call us on 0161 273 4500 or email us at [email protected]
-St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester provides a comprehensive and coordinated forensic, counselling and medical aftercare service to anyone in Greater Manchester who has experienced rape or sexual assault. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and people can access them via Greater Manchester Police, or as a self-referral.
- Survivors Manchester provides specialist trauma informed support to boys and men in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.