Woman, 51, waives her right to anonymity in bid to catch attacker who told her ‘I’ve ruined your life now, haven’t I?’ after he raped her as a schoolgirl 35 years ago
- Dawn Clark was 15-years-old when she was raped on her walk home in 1982
- Now 51, Mrs Clark hopes her appeal will help catch her attacker
- Police have an e-fit and have DNA of the attacker, but he remains at large
A woman who was raped at knifepoint as a schoolgirl has spoken out about her horrific ordeal in a bid to catch the assailant.
Dawn Clark, who was Dawn Bridgeman at the time of the attack, was chillingly asked by the attacker after her brutal ordeal: ‘I’ve ruined your life now, haven’t I?’
The 51-year-old believed her rapist was going to ‘chop her up and put her in shopping bags’, and has been haunted by his face every day since she was targeted as she walked to her home in Poole, Dorset, in 1982.
Mrs Clark, who waived her right to anonymity, said: ‘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.
Dawn Clark, aged 15 (right), was raped as she walked to her home in Poole, Dorset. Now aged 51, Mrs Clark has waived her right to anonymity in a bid to find her attacker
‘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 attack has had profound impact on the grandmother-of-two, which has effected her relationships and her own children.
Mrs Clark said she didn’t let her two daughters lead a normal life, and made them carry pepper spray and walkie-talkies in the days before mobile phones were available.
Dorset Police has released a map of the route taken by Dawn when she was attacked in the hope of finding a fresh lead to find the rapist
Mrs Clark said: ‘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.’
Above is the black-and-white e-fit handout issued from 1982 of the man who raped Mrs Clark
In a desperate bid to help police, Mrs Clark, who has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bravely tried to remember as many details about her rapist as possible.
The man is described as white, aged between 25 and 30, 5ft 6in and of medium build, with a pale complexion. The man would now be around 65 to 70 years old.
He had straight, sandy-coloured hair which was parted left with a flick of hair across his forehead, and a full bristly blond beard with a small moustache that was barely noticeable.
He wore square gold-rimmed glasses, black trousers of a heavy material and black lace-up shoes. The attacker also had a dark brown or black jacket which was waist-length, padded with a smooth material, sleeves with elasticated ribbed cuffs and a front fastening with poppers and a small fold-down collar and red checked lining.
Mrs Clark added: ‘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.’
Dorset Police launched an investigation shortly after the attack in 1982 and a black and white e-fit of the suspect has been issued.
Detective Inspector Neil Phillips, who is leading the inquiry, 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.
Mrs Clark, aged 15 above, said she has been unable to carry on with her normal life since she was raped
‘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.’
Mr Phillips added: ‘He 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