A TEAM of detectives brought together to solve historic cases of violent, murderous attacks on three young women who disappeared around 20 years ago are celebrating their second success.

The Historical Investigation Unit (HIU) at Cleveland Police, which is funded by a Home Office special grant, was established in 2018 to reinvestigate the murders of three Middlesbrough women – Donna Keogh, Vicky Glass and Rachel Wilson.

The Unit, codenamed Operation Pandect, is led by Temporary Detective Superintendent Paula Dewell.

The unit was funded and launched following a number of independent reviews and pressure from families after the force acknowledged there were ‘shortfalls’ with the initial investigations.

This is understood to involve a fixation with investigating one person believed to be responsible, at the cost of ignoring other leads.

Three years after its launch the team continue to seek justice for the families of the missing young women.

And when Keith Hall admitted to killing Rachel Wilson on Tuesday afternoon at Teesside Crown Court he became the second person to face justice for crimes committed against vulnerable young women.

The Northern Echo: Keith HallKeith Hall

In March last year, Junior Winston Bryan was found guilty of a catalogue of sexual crimes committed during a reign of terror spread across two decades.

Temporary Detective Superintendent Paula Dewell said: “I am pleased that we have been able to give justice to Rachel and resolve some unanswered questions for the family.

“I know that they will never be able to move on from Rachel’s death, but I hope that today’s result will provide them with some comfort.

“I am so proud of the team for their work, they have achieved more than others who have gone before and will go on with the aim of seeking justice for Donna Keogh and Vicky Glass.”

The Northern Echo: Temporary Detective Superintendent Paula DewellTemporary Detective Superintendent Paula Dewell

Rachel was the last of three young women to go missing from Middlesbrough in a four-year period when she disappeared in 2002.

Her remains were found dumped in a drainage ditch on the outskirts of Middlesbrough in 2012.

Hall, of Lambton Road, Grove Hill, Middlesbrough, previously pleaded not guilty to murder but entered a guilty plea to a charge of manslaughter on the day his trial was due to start.

The Northern Echo: Rachel WilsonRachel Wilson

The 62-year-old had been the focus of Cleveland Police's attention throughout the investigation but it had taken them years to finally secure justice for Rachel and her family.

Temp Det Supt Dewell said: "Rachel was a victim through all of this, Hall was in a relationship with her when she was only 15 and he was in his 40s. Rachel was abused by Hall and other men who took advantage of her.

"She was a vulnerable young woman who had her entire life ahead of her and Hall cruelly took that away from her."

At the time of her disappearance she was in a longstanding relationship with Hall, who was older than Rachel's mother.

Detectives managed to collect evidence from more than 150 witnesses before case was brought to trial.

Hall also admitted living off prostitution and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was remanded in custody while medical reports were compiled before his sentence at the end of June at Teesside Crown Court.

Vicky Glass disappeared in September 2000 and her remains were discovered several weeks later.

The teenager, who had become involved in drugs and prostitution, was dropped off by a taxi outside the Shipmate pub, in Union Street, Middlesbrough, at about 4am on Sunday, September 24.

The Northern Echo: Vicky GlassVicky Glass

Her naked, mutilated body was discovered several weeks later on an isolated track on the North York Moors, near Danby. She had just celebrated her 21st birthday.

Her devastated mother, Debbie Goodall, has previously spoken of the heartache and grief that is a constant reminder of her loss and urged anyone with information to come forward and help the family grieve properly.

The third young woman, Donna Keogh has never been found. She disappeared from Middlesbrough in 1998 after she was last seen at a house party.

She was just 17 when she disappeared on April 19, 1998.

Last year, Crimestoppers offered a £10,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the teenager's murder.

The charity offered the reward in an attempt to give Donna's family closure after suffering years of heartbreak and disappointment.

Her family remains tormented by questions which remain unanswered to this day.

The Northern Echo: Donna KeoghDonna Keogh

In 2006, Donna's parents lodged official complaints against Cleveland Police in relation to the inquiry.

A new inquiry was launched in 2016, with hundreds of people interviewed, carrying out thousands of lines of enquiry.

Since the launch of the HIU, the team has also investigated Junior Chester Bryan under the banner of Operation Rosa, and successfully brought him to justice in 2020.

The team took on the case as the reporting person came forward as a result of the investigation into the murder of Donna Keogh.

The violent pimp was found guilty of raping, beating and abusing a number of young girls and women during a 20-year reign of terror.

Bryan was cleared of several charges, including ones of rape, but was convicted of at least one charge against all eight of the woman who said they had suffered at the hands of the defendant.

The Northern Echo: Junior BryanJunior Bryan

The savage nature of the brutal assaults Bryan inflicted on the victims has had a long-term impact on the women, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Bryan, of Marton Road, Middlesbrough, was accused of forcing a number of teenagers and young women into prostitution after getting them addicted to drugs.

Throughout the eight-week trial, jurors had heard from all the alleged victims how he had abused them sometime between 1993 and 2013.

The catalogue of charges allegedly happened while the defendant was living in Darlington, Middlesbrough, Leeds and London.

One of his victims was driven along an isolated track next to a Darlington golf course and was forced to dig her own grave while being viciously assaulted.

Bryan had pleaded guilty to living off the earnings of one of his alleged victims between September 1999 and November 2002 and two charges of supplying drugs to two women.

A vulnerable teenage prostitute told the court she was raped by the violent pimp after she scored some crack cocaine from another dealer.

The complainant admitted she was a drug user before she met up with Junior Bryan but her addiction intensified as he plied her with seemingly free drugs.

She said Bryan, known as JC, dragged her upstairs at his Middlesbrough home before subjecting her to a violent and humiliating sexual assault.

Judge Howard Crowson told Bryan he was a controlling and abusive man who deliberately targeted some of his victims due to their age and vulnerability.

The judge sentenced the 63-year-old to 24 years in custody.