'It's horrendous' - Community in shock following news of church yard rape

A man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church on Saturday, July 3.

A man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church, on Church Road in Downham Market on Saturday, July 3. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

Neighbours and a church rector have expressed their shock after a teenager was raped on Saturday morning. 

The man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church, on Church Road in Downham Market on Saturday, July 3. 

Police say the incident took place just before 1am.

A 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of rape on Saturday afternoon and taken to King’s Lynn Police Investigation Centre where he was questioned. He has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

A man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church on Saturday, July 3.

A man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church, on Church Road in Downham Market on Saturday, July 3. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

It comes three months after the rape of a teenage woman in the Rouse's Lane area in the town, although police have said they are not linking the two incidents.

A woman, who did not want to be named, said there was two police cars and an ambulance at the church on Saturday and that a path near the church side cemetery was cordoned off.

Church rector Father James Mather said it was "deeply shocking" and has expressed his concern for the victim.

Father James Mather, rector at St Edmund's Church in Downham Market for 18 years. Picture: Father Ja

Father James Mather expressed his shock at the news and offered his heartfelt concern for the victim. - Credit: Archant

Fr Mather said his wife first made him aware of the police presence on Saturday but that he was unaware of what happened, adding that it was taped off at around 6.30am.

The father-of-three said: "It is a shock. When you hear about these things you think of your own children and our hearts go out to the poor victim.

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"So much is beyond imagining."

He hopes people will not be discouraged from using the church yard or stop "law abiding people going about their normal business".

He said: "St Edmunds church yard has been officially closed for burials since the 1870s and in more recent times we have wanted to encourage people to come to enjoy the church yard for exercise and to enjoy the lovely view of the Fens.

A man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church on Saturday, July 3.

A man, aged in his late teens, was raped in the church yard at St Edmunds Church, on Church Road in Downham Market on Saturday, July 3. - Credit: Sarah Hussain

"I do know that police do patrol from time to time and we hope it's a reassurance to people."

He said of his 30 years of ordination, news like this was "sadly not a surprise but still shocking".

A resident living near the church cemetery said she had no idea about the incident and did not hear anything.

She said: "I had my windows open and heard nothing.

"It's horrendous, especially as I have a daughter."

Sam Sidney, who lives near the church yard, said the incident was "worrying", adding: "It makes you think think twice."

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