Freed to rape: With huge courage, one woman tells how she was ambushed in a well-lit London street by a violent sex offender who attacked SEVEN WOMEN in just THREE WEEKS after being let out of prison
For Laura, it should have been a cosy New Year’s Eve on the sofa with her husband.
Ahead of their quiet celebration, the actress popped out to buy a bottle of sparkling wine and some nibbles, wearing jogging bottoms and a warm coat.
But as she headed home just after 7.30pm, she was subjected to a terrifying attack – beaten to the ground and stripped from the waist down. She was saved from rape thanks to the bravery of a security guard working in a nearby building.
Laura, pictured, was saved from a rapist by a security guard who witnessed the attack near her home in London. She is one of seven women attacked by the same man – a known sex offender – during the three-week rampage
‘I dread to think what might have happened. I couldn’t have fought him off for much longer,’ she recalls today. ‘He could have slit my throat or choked me. Or if my head had hit the floor in a different way, I could easily be six feet under now.’
This was the sort of attack by a stranger on a woman that we are told is extremely rare. Indeed, police officers made just that point to Laura to try to reassure her.
Yet she was one of seven women attacked by the same man during a three-week rampage. Worse, their attacker was a known sex offender who had been released from prison days earlier and was able to attack women despite being subject to a supervision order.
Today, Laura is fearful, disillusioned and, unsurprisingly, deeply disturbed that the authorities could have let this happen.
Her case raises serious questions about how violent offenders are rehabilitated, the effectiveness of the Ministry of Justice and, more importantly, women’s safety on our streets.
Yet The Mail on Sunday can reveal that she was one of seven women assaulted by the same man. Laura’s attacker, 24-year-old Joshua Cambell Victorin, had been jailed for 12 months for sexual assault and GBH, but was let out after serving half the sentence, only to breach his bail conditions and be recalled to prison.
Laura’s attacker, 24-year-old Joshua Cambell Victorin, pictured, had been jailed for 12 months for sexual assault and GBH, but was let out after serving half the sentence, only to breach his bail conditions and be recalled to prison
But The Mail on Sunday has established that he was released in December and subject to six months of post-sentence supervision, which requires convicted criminals to behave well and keep in touch with a supervising officer.
Laura said: ‘I am utterly dismayed to learn from The Mail on Sunday that this was a known sexual predator who should have been supervised.
‘The idea that he only had to serve 12 months for sexual assault and GBH charges is incredible anyway, but to know that he wasted no time in attacking women when he was released is shocking. He was obviously in a race against the clock to target as many women as possible until he was caught again.’
Across the country, every week, magistrates hear cases of people who fail to comply with post-sentence supervision orders. In Victorin’s case, there appears to be no evidence that proper supervision was carried out. For within days of his release, he was targeting women in public places.
His first offence was on December 16. A string of others followed with four women attacked over three hours in broad daylight.
He was finally arrested on January 5 and has now pleaded guilty to all seven charges – two attempted rapes and five sexual assaults.
Laura says: ‘This was someone who should have been supervised but wasn’t. One or more people in the system dropped the ball.’ Laura is in her late 30s, has four university degrees and has always considered herself streetwise – she was born and brought up in New York before moving to London with her husband a decade ago.
She said Victorin attacked her from behind without warning, adding: ‘He grabbed my thighs hard and pulled my underwear and joggers down in one swift movement. This must have been something practised for him. It wasn’t a fumble. He hit me somewhere on my neck and I blacked out.
‘When I came round, I was flat on my back, my jacket was still zipped up but by bottom half was bare. He was dragging me by the ankles. I was trying to kick my legs, pedalling them in the air. I screamed loud – and I do mean loud. I was shouting, “No, please, I’m married”, as if that would make a difference.’
Her cries were heard by a security guard at a nearby South Bank University in South London. He sprinted out and Laura’s attacker ran off. She says: ‘I was just moments from being raped. I don’t know how much longer I could have fought the attacker off.’
The guard called the police and her husband. The next day she spent five hours in a rape victim suite in Brixton going over the details of her attack.
Five days later, when officers told her they had caught a suspect, she was delighted. But she was horrified when she learned about how prolific he had been.
Laura is not her real name because she fears news of her ordeal could affect her professional work – just as the attack has affected so many other aspects of her life.
For three months her right arm was numb from an injury received in the attempted rape. Her marriage has been affected and her husband is clearly devastated, too.
She says: ‘It has changed the dynamic between us. I used to walk our dog on my own. Now, the minute I go to get the lead, my husband’s putting his shoes on to come. It has changed my whole belief system.’
In another damning indictment of the criminal justice system, she has had to fight to get information about her attacker at every stage.
She says: ‘His actions encroached upon my life but I didn’t get to know anything about him. They wouldn’t even tell me if they got a clear picture of him from CCTV.’
When contacted by The Mail on Sunday, the Ministry of Justice said a ‘serious further offences’ report was currently being prepared.
A Probation Service spokesman said: ‘These were sickening crimes. Our thoughts remain with the victims. Staff continue to work tirelessly to keep the public safe and prevent people re-offending.’
Against the advice of officers, Laura says she will attend Victorin’s sentencing later this month, adding: ‘They warned me that he will be able to see me at court, but I think I can handle that. He’s already seen enough of me.
‘I feel very lucky to have survived. But I want this man – and others like him – to be prevented from ever doing this again.’