05 July 2017
Detectives are renewing their appeal to identify the man who raped a teenage girl in Poole 35 years ago.
The victim – Dawn Clark who was 15 at the time and then known as Dawn Bridgeman – was attacked as she walked alone in the east Alderney area on Monday 3 May 1982.
Dawn, who is entitled to life-long anonymity, has chosen to waive that right in a bid to find her attacker.
A full investigation was launched by Dorset Police following the incident and an e-fit of the suspect was issued to the local media. The crime has been regularly reviewed but, despite repeated efforts, he has not been identified.
In a renewed bid to solve the crime, detectives are reissuing the e-fit. The appeal also featured on the BBC Crimewatch Roadshow today, Wednesday 5 July 2017.
The officer leading the investigation firmly believes someone knows the identity of the suspect and he is urging anyone who recognises the man to contact them or the anonymous Crimestoppers number.
At around 8.45pm on the day of the offence, which was the early May bank holiday, Dawn left her friend’s home in Northmere Drive to walk home with another friend.
Dawn and her friend parted company at a footpath in St Brelades Avenue, which leads onto a piece of common land and the subway under Ringwood Road. As she reached the common, Dawn saw a man she did not recognise.
Dawn said: “He asked me if I knew what time the Yellow Bus was due and what the time was. I told him it was 9.20pm.
“I carried on walking and then all of a sudden he was behind me. He put his arm around my neck and had a knife in his hand holding it against my throat. I managed to push away and run but it was quite sandy and he caught me again and put the knife around my neck and told me if I didn’t want to get hurt I had to be quiet.
“He took me into the wooded area that was there and on the way through he picked up a couple of carrier bags and told me if I wanted to live I had to be quiet and do what he was telling me to do.
“He carried on walking to the area where he physically attacked me.”
The suspect then apologised to Dawn and allowed her to leave. She fled home and met some friends. After telling them what had happened, the police were called.
Dawn can still vividly remember exactly what her attacker was wearing, what he looked like and that he smelt of alcohol.
He was described as white, aged between 25 and 30 years old, five feet six inches tall, of medium build and with a pale complexion. He had straight sandy-coloured hair which was parted on the left with a flick of hair across his forehead, and a full bristly blond beard with small moustache that was barely noticeable.
He wore square gold-rimmed glasses, black trousers of a heavy material and black lace-up shoes. He also had a dark brown or black jacket which was waist-length, padded with a smooth material, sleeves with elasticated robbed cuffs and a front fastening with poppers and a small fold down collar and red checked lining.
Dawn continued: “I was 15 at the time and from that day on things just came to a standstill. It really changed my attitude towards men. It changed my attitude towards trusting anybody.
“I feel like I am stuck in a rut all the time. I just feel like he has turned my world upside down. He’s changed my life. He’s changed other people’s lives. He’s made it hard for me to maintain a normal relationship without someone suffering at the other end.
“I need justice. I need him to hand himself in or to be caught. Someone must know him. All these years later we have the DNA of the man who did this to me.
“If you’ve got any doubts or any clues about this or have been hiding it because you feel loyal to someone – just phone the police and do the right thing. If you are in any doubt, please come forward as the police can eliminate people very easily.
“I have spoken about this every day of my life. I can’t move on and live a normal life until he has been caught.”
Detective Inspector Neil Phillips, of Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team, said: “Even though some 35 years may have passed we have never given up hope that we will find the man responsible for this horrific crime.
"The e-fit is black and white which is how they were produced in the 1980s. Dawn said this is a good likeness of the offender and I would urge anyone who knows who this man is to please call us.
“We have a DNA sample of the offender so eliminating potential suspects is a very quick and easy process. We regularly carry out checks against the national police database so it would appear that the suspect has never come to our attention before.
“I am convinced that someone knows who was responsible for this crime and I would urge them to contact us or Crimestoppers anonymously. You may have suspected them at the time and chosen not come forward. Now is the time to do the right thing.
“To remind people – Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister, Ronald Reagan was the American President and the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by the British submarine Conqueror in the Falklands War the day before the attack. Princess Anne visited the new Bournemouth and Poole College that week as well.
"The man responsible for this crime will now be aged in his 60s and has probably moved on with his life but due to his wicked actions Dawn cannot.
“I would like to pay tribute to Dawn for her bravery in speaking out – she has lived with this crime for 35 years and is determined to see her attacker brought to justice."
Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at www.dorset.police.uk, via email email@example.com or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55160162337. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
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