Could there be more Cambridgeshire victims of the night-stalker rapist whose crimes spanned nearly 30 years?
- Credit: Archant
A night-stalker rapist who preyed on women walking alone is facing jail after admitting crimes spanning nearly 30 years. Mechanic Clive Howard attacked five women in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk between 1986 and 2014.
Police believe there may be more victims and are appealing for women targeted by Howard to come forward.
The 56-year-old had been due to stand trial at Norwich Crown Court yesterday but admitted offences including rape and kidnap at the last minute, Norfolk Police said.
Detective Sergeant Chris Burgess, who led the investigation, said: “I believe women are safer with this dangerous man off the streets.
“A striking similarity between the cases is that Howard would prey on women walking alone at night.
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“I hope his guilty plea goes some way to helping his victims move forward from this terrible experience.
“I’m concerned there are other victims out there, either in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, and would urge other women to come forward.”
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The force revealed that Howard was caught after attacking a woman in her 20s in the St Helens Wharf car park in Norwich on May 30 last year.
He had offered her a lift as she walked home from a night out but instead took her to the car park and raped her.
As he escaped, she tried to take a picture of his car on her mobile phone. Although Howard grabbed the phone before she could take the photograph, she recovered it from a bush and contacted police.
Officers got a partial image of the number plate of his Volvo from CCTV and then tracked him down.
When they compared his DNA with the national database, he was linked to an unsolved case in which a woman was kidnapped in Cambridgeshire in 2013, the force said.
In that case a woman in her 20s managed to fight him off and, as she scratched him, his DNA was trapped under her fingernail.
Officers found “striking similarities” to the Norwich case and finally linked Howard to three other kidnappings in Cambridgeshire.
Mr Burgess said: “Reliving an experience such as this is never easy for a victim of sexual assault and I recognise the bravery shown by all victims in this case who would have been prepared to give evidence, had the case gone to trial.”
Howard, of Bury Street, Stowmarket, Suffolk, admitted seven counts of rape, three of attempted kidnap and one of attempted rape.
He has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on April 20.
Victims of sexual abuse should contact Norfolk’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0845 456 4810 or call police on 101.
n Six counts of rape against one woman between November 1986 and March 1993.
n The attempted rape of another woman in Cambridge on May 5, 2013.
n The attempted kidnap of a different woman on the same day, May 5, 2013, in Cambridge.
n And the attempted kidnaps of two other women in Cambridge on February 15, 2014.
But it was only after being charged with the Norwich rape that the full extent of Howard’s predatory nature became apparent.
As a result of his arrest, Howard’s DNA was put on the national database and inquiries revealed a match to an unsolved case in Cambridgeshire in 2013.
Howard’s DNA matched a profile obtained during an investigation into the attempted kidnap of a woman in her 20s at about 2.45am on May 5, 2013 in Christ’s Pieces.
The woman managed to fend off her attacker, scratching him in the process, and a DNA sample was later retrieved from underneath her fingernail.
He was linked to three other attempted kidnappings in Cambridgeshire, one of which in Glisson Road, happened about 30 minutes before the attempted rape in Christ’s Pieces.
The two other attempted kidnaps in Cambridgeshire both happened
on February 15 last year – with the first in the Cavendish Road area of the city between 2am and 2.30am and the second in Brooklands Avenue between 4.30am and 4.40am.
Howard, who appeared in court in a cream jacket and blue tie, will be sentenced for all offences on April 20 after reports to assess his “dangerousness” can be carried out.
Judge Stephen Holt said: “You’ve pleaded guilty and the one thing that can be said is your victim has been spared the ordeal of giving evidence.
“I’m sure you will understand I need to have a full pre-sentence report and the whole issue of whether you need to be sentenced as a dangerous offender will be made.”
Detective Sergeant Chris Burgess, from Norfolk Constabulary’s rape investigation unit, said he believed there could be more victims out there and urged women to come forward.
He added: “I’m concerned there are other victims out there either in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridge and would urge other women to come forward.
“It’s very rare. Cases like this don’t come up very often. We’re talking about a serial rapist which is something in this county and other counties that is not heard of. We want to give people the chance to come forward.”
Anyone who thinks they might have been a victim should call police on 101.
Norfolk’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), The Harbour Centre, operates a 24-hour service for victims of sexual abuse and can be contacted on 0845 456 4810, or call police on 101 to report a crime.