TWO detectives were recognised with for their tenacious and compassionate investigation of serious sexual offences which resulted in a man being jailed for 20 years for rapes committed in the 1990s.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Belshaw and Detective Constable Kerry Gibson received their plaudits and commendations at the Chief Constable's Awards ceremonies earlier this week. 

The duo began their investigation in 2019 and, whilst safeguarding and supporting the victim, they pursued evidence and uncovered details of offending which spanned the length of the country.

News and Star: Detective Sergeant Matthew Belshaw and Chief Constable Michelle Skeer. Detective Sergeant Matthew Belshaw and Chief Constable Michelle Skeer.

READ MORE: How a Carlisle child rapist was brought to justice by his victim's courage

From their findings of the complex investigation, it then led to to the perpetrator being jailed in January 2021 for 20 years. 

Harold Nicholson, 71, of Holywell Crescent in Carlisle, was jailed at the city's crown court after being found guilty of five counts of rape.

The detectives were put forward for the commendation by Detective Inspector Simon Gray. 

READ MORE: Carlisle pensioner, 71, gets 20 years jail for repeatedly raping child

Det Insp Gray said: "Non-recent sexual offence investigations can be extremely complex and challenging to prove.

"However, Detective Sergeant Belshaw and Detective Constable Gibson both worked tirelessly on behalf of the victim to secure a significant prison sentence for a dangerous offender.

"The court result sent out a resounding message to the public that those who commit such terrible offences - however long ago - can still face justice, even decades down the line," he said. 

Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary Michelle Skeer said: "I'm immensely proud of the work of our officers and staff and the courage, professionalism and integrity they display when working to keep the people of Cumbria safe.

"I was also privileged to recognise once again the sterling work of our detectives and their colleagues who work so tirelessly to bring serious offenders including sex offenders and those involved in serious organised crime, to justice.

"I'm extremely proud of all of these officers and staff for stepping forward and helping to keep Cumbria such a safe place to live, work and visit," she said.

READ MORE: Cumbria Constabulary launch weapon amnesty