Could there be more victims of Norwich rapist and serial attacker Clive Howard?
PUBLISHED: 10:09 10 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:26 10 March 2015
How many more victims? That is the question being asked by police forces in the region today after a serial sex attacker admitted raping a woman in Norwich and a string of other offences across the east of England.
Clive Howard, 56, was due to go on trial at Norwich Crown Court yesterday after denying raping a woman in St Helens Wharf car park, close to the law courts in Norwich on May 13 last year.
But with his trial about to start Howard, of West View, Mill Road, Battisford, changed his plea and spared the victim the ordeal of having to give evidence.
Howard was not known to police before May last year but investigations into the Norwich rape would reveal that detectives were dealing with a serial sex attacker who targeted and preyed on vulnerable young women not only in Norfolk but in other parts of the region as well.
Detectives uncovered 10 further offences all of which Howard admitted ahead of the start of the trial into the Norwich rape which he continued to deny until yesterday.
Howard had previously pleaded guilty to:
• Six counts of rape against one woman between November 1986 and March 1993.
• The attempted rape of another woman in Cambridge on May 5 2013.
• The attempted kidnap of a different woman on the same day, May 5 2013, in Cambridge.
Leading a double life
On the face of it he was a respectable mechanic who had never come to the attention of the police before and lived with his elderly parents, but Clive Howard lived an extraordinary double life as a serial attacker.
Howard, who lived with his parents in Battisford, also had his own house in Stowmarket and worked as a mechanic at a garage in Suffolk.
It is believed Howard had an 82-year-old girlfriend at the time of his arrest, but was “actively seeking sexual partners” on internet dating sites.
Speaking after Howard entered his pleas yesterday, Det Sgt Chris Burgess praised the Norwich rape victim whose bravery, he said, led detectives to uncovering other offences.
He added: “I think it’s important she hasn’t had to give evidence. She’s been incredibly brave and her bravery is why he’s pleaded guilty. 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’s guilty plea demonstrates the strong case police had against him and I believe women are safer with this dangerous man off the streets.”
• And the attempted kidnaps of two other women in Cambridge on February 15 2014.
Howard, who appeared in court in a cream jacket and blue tie, will be sentenced for all offences on April after reports to assess his “dangerousness” can be carried out.
Judge Stephen Holt said: “You’ve pleaded guilty and the one thing that can be said is you’re victim has been spared the ordeal of giving evidence.
“I’m sure you will understand I need to have a full pre-sentence report and the whole issue of whether you need to be sentenced as a dangerous offender will be made.”
Cambridge attempted rape victim praised
A terrified woman attacked in a Cambridge park by a man – who turned out to be Howard – was praised by police for managing to fight him off.
The late-night assault on the woman in her 20s on Christ’s Pieces in May 2013 caused concern among women living nearby.
Police cordoned off the area and crime scene investigators scoured the patch of grass hunting for forensic clues in an effort to identify the attacker.
Cambridgeshire detectives launched an appeal for witnesses following the sexual assault.
The woman, who is in her 20s, was walking home from a night out in Cambridge when she was pushed to the ground in Christ’s Pieces, off Emmanuel Road, at about 2.45am on Sunday, May 5.
Speaking at the time of the attack in May 2013, Det Sgt Neil Hewson, who was investigating the attack, praised the victim for her courage in tackling the attacker.
He said it had been a terrifying experience for the woman who showed great bravery in fighting off the man who had tried to rape her.
Detective Sergeant Chris Burgess from Norfolk Constabulary’s rape investigation unit, said he was convinced there were more victims out there and urged women to come forward.
He said: “I’m concerned there are other victims out there either in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridge and would urge other women to come forward.
“It’s very rare. Cases like this don’t come up very often. “We’re talking about a serial rapist which is something in this county and other counties that is not heard of. We want to give people the chance to come forward.”
Anyone who thinks they might have been a victim should call police on 101.
Predator patrolled for lone victims
Clive Howard is a “dangerous” man who can expect to serve many years behind bars when he is sentenced in April – but he could still be roaming free, targeting lone women in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge had he not struck in Norwich last year.
The victim, aged in her 20s, was walking home after a night out when she got a lift from a car being driven by Howard.
The woman was taken to a car park, where she was raped. Afterwards, the victim tried taking a photograph of the car’s number plate of the Volvo; however, Howard grabbed her phone, throwing it into a bush before driving off at speed. The woman managed to find her phone and contacted a friend before dialling 999.
Det Sgt Chris Burgess, officer in the case, said police were able to get part of the number plate for the Volvo involved after looking at CCTV and inquiries led officers to Howard, who was identified as the registered owner.
Det Sgt Burgess said: “One of the addresses we visited was Howard’s business address, which is where the vehicle was located.”
He was arrested at the Suffolk garage where he worked and charged with the offence a few days later.
But it was only after being charged with the Norwich rape that the full extent of Howard’s predatory nature became apparent.
As a result of his arrest, Howard’s DNA was put on the national database and inquiries revealed a match to an unsolved case in Cambridgeshire in 2013. He was also linked to three other attempted kidnappings in Cambridgeshire.
Det Sgt Burgess said: “All were in the early hours of the morning. Each of the women were approached by a man who had got out of a car and attempted to get them into it.”
He said that before the Norwich rape Howard had carried out “two to three loops” around the city “before he managed to pick his victim”.
He added: “It was a predatory type of patrolling around which was similar to the behaviour in Cambridge – driving around the city in loops just looking for his victim.”
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