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Rape leaves area in state of terror

PUBLISHED: 18:59 23 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:14 03 March 2010

A DOUBLE rape close to the heart of Ipswich town centre has left residents in the area in a state of terror for the second time in less than a year. As detectives today scour St Margarets Green for clues in the hunt for the rapists, crime reporter LISA BAXTER and TINA HEATH assessed the reaction to an attack which happened just yards from the area where a pensioner was dragged off the street and raped last March.

A DOUBLE rape close to the heart of Ipswich town centre has left residents in the area in a state of terror for the second time in less than a year. As detectives today scour St Margarets Green for clues in the hunt for the rapists, crime reporter LISA BAXTER and TINA HEATH assessed the reaction to an attack which happened just yards from the area where a pensioner was dragged off the street and raped last March.

THE rape of an Ipswich woman near a central town church has horrified those who live and use the area around St Margarets Green. Plastic police tape seals off the church and detectives, who only last year were quizzing residents about the rape of a pensioner, have descended on the area once again to search for the men who carried out yesterday's terrifying attack on a 36-year-old woman.

Teenager Clare Tapp walks alone along Cobbold Street (scene of the rape of a 92-year-old woman on March 1, last year) every night on her way to work and said news of the latest rape, has left her shaking.

Cobbold Street is only metres away from the scene of yesterday's double sex attack and though police say it is too early to link the crimes, the memory of last year's rape is still fresh in the minds of those who live in the area.

"I was worried last year and this time makes it even worse," said the 18-year-old who lives nearby. "It could happen anywhere to anyone but it is worrying. I'm shaking now I've heard." The teenager said she often makes sure she is talking on her mobile phone when walking home at night in darker areas so that she is speaking to someone when she feels scared.

Nurse Jan Read, who lives in nearby Christchurch Street, said: "I've been quite scared ever since the rape last year. I never used to be scared but I am now. You don't expect that. It is frightening. I don't like coming out at night at all and there's not good lighting.

"This street particularly is bad," the 57-year-old said of Cobbold Street which leads directly on to St Margaret's Green.

An elderly woman who lived just metres from the scene of both attacks and did not want to give her name said police had spoken to her today about the latest rape. "It's appalling, quite appalling but what can one do?" she said of the latest sex attack.

Student Stephanie Taylor has lived in Cobbold Street for 18 months – a period covering last March's rape when a pensioner was dragged backwards off the road to a secluded spot near garages where she was subjected to a terrifying sex attack.

"It is very shocking," she said of yesterday's rape. "It seems to be happening everywhere. It's very worrying.

"I definitely changed my behaviour after the last one," the 24-year-old said, telling how she walks in the middle of the street at night to avoid dark and secluded area of pavement. "I think they've improved the lights but it's still very dark with lots of alleys," she added of the area.

"I don't really think there's anything I can do more than I am doing. You don't really want to get to the point where I'm not going out. You just be as careful as you can really."

A businessman with who works in the area added his concerns about security saying that Christchurch Park, which borders the St Margaret's churchyard, was a magnet for young people who congregated there after dark drinking and smoking.

"If I'm at a meeting late I can heard them all shouting and making a racket. You can walk straight through the church, hop over the corner and you're straight in the park," said the man, who declined to be named.

"The council should be responsible for keeping an eye on the park and they don't even have enough money to keep it tidy let alone run any security.

"That's our major park and it's falling to bits. Any kid can hop over the fence anytime. Years ago there used to be a guy with a dog keeping people out but as far as I'm aware there's nothing and there should be more in a major open park."

Bernard Jasper, a parishioner at St Margarets Green church, spoke of his shock at the double rape. The 53-year-old, who lives in Ivery Street, added that the people regularly used the isolated area at the back of the church for drinking.

"It's easy to go over the wall and it's very secluded. It's very hidden away at the back. I would think that even if anyone was screaming out there they wouldn't be heard," he said.

"It's a shock that this sort of crime happens anywhere," he added.

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