As a 21 year old reporter working for a London press agency, I will never forget the time when in March 1986 and working on the evening shift, myself and the news editor got a call from the Police to say they were investigating a horrific rape.
I was the first journalist on the scene – a beautiful old vicarage in Ealing – and the very last place you could imagine anything terrible happening.
But as the night unfolded, it became clear something very terrible indeed had happened.
In fact, a gang of robbers had broken into the vicarage and disturbed the occupants – they were Jill Saward, her father, the Vicar of Ealing and her boyfriend David Kerr, who at the time were watching television.
Maybe it was because I was of a similar age to Jill Saward, but I couldn’t get what had happened out of my mind. But then it was particularly shocking.
For while she was brutally raped, David and her father were tied up and beaten. They both received fractured skulls.
Needless to say The Ealing Vicarage Rape Attack received huge publicity and the sheer horror of it dominated the front pages of every national newspaper. It was one of the biggest and worse stories I worked on.
The case received more publicity when the judge gave the burglars longer sentences for breaking into the vicarage than the rape, causing huge controversy. Unsurprisingly that same judge was later to publicly apologise for the ‘one great blemish’ on his career.
Incredibly, Jill, now a mum, waived her anonymity and she and her father forgave the gang. She also showed enormous strength when she wrote a book, ‘Rape, My Story’. It was the first time a rape victim had really told how it was and to this day she is still involved in supporting victims of rape and sexual assault.
However, of course the other – less public victim – was David. But, ironically, and not knowing I had previously covered his story, he recently contacted me through my website Featureworld. He tells me he has since struggled with the terrible memories of that night. After being left for dead by his attackers, the rape forced the break up of his relationship with Jill and he was left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and a brain injury. After several suicide attempts he eventually found solace in a local self help depression group.
Now, and with the help of a new partner, he has found solace in publishing his own books – The Journeyman’s Voyage Into Wisdom and My Visit to Planet Madness, will be available from Chipmunkapublishing. and tell David’s own inspiring story of how, against all the odds, he has now found happiness.
It is amazing how small the world is and I am so glad David has found peace at last.
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