06 October 2005

Mother of rape victim (15) speaks

Irelandclick.com

Girl too traumatised to tell her mum. She typed ordeal, ‘handed me the sheet and ran upstairs.’

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(photofit of rapist

The mother of a 15-year-old girl who was raped on the Glen Road has spoken to the Andersonstown News about her family’s determination to bring to justice the man who “tried to destroy” her child.

The distraught West Belfast woman, who’s not being named in order to protect the identity of her daughter, made a heartfelt plea for help from the local community.

“What’s happened can’t be changed,” she said. “All I can do now is beg local people to go to the police with whatever information they might have.

“No matter how insignificant they think it might be, no matter what their loyalties are, I’m pleading with local people – try and understand how devastating this is for our family and help us bring this man to justice. I’m absolutely convinced this man will strike again in the future if we don’t catch him.”

The teenager was attacked on the Glen Road at about 9pm on September 23 – a Friday night.

The teenager had visited shops opposite St Teresa’s Church and had crossed the Glen Road when a man in his thirties shouted at her from behind.

Ignoring his shouts, she pretended to be on the phone as she walked past the church, but the man grabbed her from behind and close to railings at St Teresa’s Primary School. A struggle ensued before he dragged her into bushes in the grounds of the nearby Glenmonagh Resource Centre (formerly St Patrick’s Training School) and raped her.

Described as being in his late 30s, of chubby build and with dark hair, the girl also said his breath smelt of alcohol and he was wearing Joop aftershave.

Police said he had a distinctive short, bushy moustache, bushy eyebrows and two dents on either side of his nose suggesting he may wear glasses.
His right ear was pierced and he spoke with a local accent.

Following the attack, the traumatised girl eventually confided in a close friend, but refused to tell her family or go to the police.

“I could tell something was wrong,” said her mother. “She wouldn’t go to school on the Monday, she wouldn’t eat, she didn’t seem to be sleeping – she looked absolutely exhausted. She’d gone from being a bubbly, talkative, confident wee girl to this quiet person that I hardly recognised. I kept asking her what was wrong, but she just said she was sick.

“Her daddy said he passed her room on the Friday night and she was just sitting on her bed in the dark staring into space. He asked her what was wrong but she wouldn’t say. She told me later that she was sitting there wanting to die – wishing she was dead.

“Her wee friend told her last Wednesday that if she didn’t tell me, he would.
“But she couldn’t speak the words to me. She went into school last Thursday and typed out on a computer what happened to her and printed it out. When she came home, she handed me the sheet and ran up the stairs.”

Unable to describe the pain of reading the details of her daughter’s attack, the mother said simply: “I can’t forgive myself. I feel like I let her down, and the only way I can stop feeling like this is to put every last drop of energy I have into bringing this animal to justice.

“Her father’s taken it really bad too. He blames himself for not being there, her older brother blames himself for being out that night. We’re all blaming ourselves, but we’ll get through this for her sake. We’ll see this man put behind bars for her sake.”

Her mother described the local schoolgirl before the attack as being “a brilliant wee girl who got all A’s and B’s in her exams and had no interest in boys yet – she had never even had a boyfriend.”

The girl has been offered counselling, but declined. “I think she’s not ready for it,” says her mother. “She’s been through too much – having to go through intimate examinations at that age, to be tested for STDs. It’s horrific.”

The girl was brought to County Meath by her father yesterday in an effort to take her mind off the events of the last fortnight.

Her mother says the family would consider moving to Meath if the teenager was willing.

“I don’t want to stay around here any more,” she said. “I have three more girls to rear and I want to protect them. This place is a disgrace – there’s no law and order any more, and there won’t be until this community comes together to stamp out this sort of thing. No mother should have to go through what I have. No 15-year-old should have to go through what my daughter has. When is it going to stop?”

The mother said she plans to join a rally on Friday night in protest at the rise in anti-social behaviour and sexual attacks in the area.

The ‘Reclaim the Streets’ rally is supported by the Falls Community Council, the Safer Neighbourhood Project, Community Restorative Justice and the Andersonstown Community Network. Anyone wishing to attend can join the protest at the Falls Community Council at 5.30pm.

The Andersonstown News can also reveal that the PSNI have taken CCTV footage from local shops as part of their investigation into the rape.

Journalist:: Laura McDaid

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