‘Why the level of violence against my face?’: appeal to catch footpath knifeman
PUBLISHED: 16:23 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:43 12 August 2020
Julie Cooper has no memory of the devastating moment when a knife attacker slashed her face to the bone on a Norwich footpath.
But 20 years on the physical and mental scars remain - and haunt her every day.
Now she is making a heartfelt appeal for help in catching the attacker, and answering questions that have “bugged” her for two decades: “Why me and why the level of violence against my face?”
The attack left the then 28-year-old with serious facial bone breaks, including upper and lower jaws, as well as her cheek being cut to the bone and several teeth knocked out.
It happened almost 20 years ago between 1.05pm and 1.15pm on Europa Way, a footpath opposite County Hall close to Norfolk Police’s former headquarters on Martineau Lane.
Today, with the anniversary of the attack looming, Mrs Cooper has bravely spoken out in a bid to help catch the attacker who left her for dead.
Speaking at Norfolk Police’s Wymondham headquarters, she said: “There’s always that hope that there’s someone out there who will know something or is suspicious of something but hasn’t come forward yet.
“My hope is that they will listen to what I have to say and have talked about and will provide justice for me and my family. Someone out there must know something and hopefully they will come forward.”
The mother-of-two worked on the Europa Way industrial estate as an assistant accountant at CS Lampertz and was returning to work, having been home for lunch, when her life was turned upside-down by the attack.
She received knife wounds to her face, shoulder and arms and had to have a nine-hour operation to rebuild her face.
Mrs Cooper, who underwent the last of several operations more than 10 years ago, has tried not to think about what happened to her, but still had terrible memories of the effect her injuries had on her family.
The 48-year-old said she still had flashbacks about the attack and the effects, which continued to haunt her to this day.
She said: “I’ve spent many years living in the shadows because of how my face looked at the time.
“It would stop me doing things. I’ve always regretted not going to an Oasis concert with my husband.
“If there were people around or a crowd of people I would start getting in a panic and my husband would hold me to one side.”
Mrs Cooper, who lives south of Norwich, is married to Lee, 52, and has two grown-up daughters aged 23 and 24.
She was a trainee accountant at the time before becoming a finance director at a Norfolk academy.
She has since gone become head of accounts for the Norfolk and Norwich Hospitals Charity.
She said: “It’s really fulfilling just to be able to give back to the organisation that has done so much for me and my family.”
But Mrs Cooper admitted that after almost 20 years she and her family needed answers about what happened that day.
She said: “It’s not really a situation that I ever feel is going to end for me and my family. But it would be good to answer some questions like why, why me and why the level of violence against my face? That’s always bugged me.
“There may be people out there who know something. They might now have children and how would they feel if it was their child?”
Andy Guy, Norfolk and Suffolk cold case manager, said that following an appeal seven years ago, they had identified at least two people of interest who had since been forensically ruled out.
He said items of Julie’s clothing and a glasses case she had at the time had been forensically tested while CCTV from a nearby garage, which showed feet running away from the scene, had also been enhanced.
He said police went to see four people as a result but no-one could be forensically linked to the crime.
Mr Guy said he did not know if the suspect was dead or alive but hoped to appeal to those who might have known the person responsible.
He said that person was likely to be highly excited and “covered in blood” at the time.
He said: “I think it’s important we close this by detection.
“Firstly it’s the right thing to do for Julie after everything she went through 20 years ago and the indescribable level of violence she had to deal with.”
He added Mrs Cooper was an “incredible lady” who was “so strong and resilient” to deal with what she had been through.
Information to police on 101.
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