Plea for victims to come forward as serial rapist admits crimes

NewsBy Sunday World
Clive Howard
Clive Howard

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 Norfolk and Cambridgeshire between 1986 and 2014.

Police believe there may be many 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.

"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."

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.