A man who raped a teenage girl at knifepoint as she walked to work 33-years ago has today been jailed for 13 years.
Serial rapist Christopher Clark, who is already serving life for another serious sexual offence, was sentenced to 13 years with a five year extended licence at Basildon Crown Court today, Monday September 3, after pleading guilty to raping the woman in Thurrock.
Following the sentence the survivor of Clark’s attack, 51-year-old Yolande Kennedy, has chosen to waive her legal right to anonymity to speak about her ordeal and give strength to other victims.
She said: “I have lived with this traumatic event for 33 years and I have waited all that time to confront the man who did this to me and see justice done.
“He made me feel like nobody, someone that was to be used and abused. He thought he was powerful but he has no power, I have the power and I want others to take strength from what I have been through.
“Today, after 33-years of being silent, I want people to know what he did to me, know that justice has been done and know that if this has happened to you, you can survive it.”
Basildon Crown Court heard how a then 18-year-old Yolande would leave her home in North Stifford every morning around 6am to walk to the bus stop.
Three days before the attack she first noticed a man sat on a wall as she walked along Clockhouse Lane. She walked past and moments later the man, now known to be Clark, ran up behind her but ran past and over the footbridge.
The next day Yolande took the same route again and, once again, Clark ran up behind her and ran past over the footbridge.
She had the next day off but, on September 17 1985, she once again left for work.
Yolande walked along Clockhouse Lane and saw Clark sitting on the wall. As she walked past she then heard someone running from behind her.
As with the two days before, the teen thought Clark would run past.
However he grabbed her around the neck and held a knife to her throat.
Clark then marched Yolande at knifepoint to a nearby farmyard where he raped her.
Recalling the attack Yolande said:
“I felt completely numb and that time had stood still. I didn’t believe it was happening and I didn’t want to feel anything.”
Following the attack Clark got up and walked away, leaving a terrified Yolande in a state of shock. She managed to dress herself but as she attempted to leave the farmyard, Clark returned to the scene.
“When I got to the side gate he came running back and it was at that point I thought I was going to die.”
However the evil rapist had returned to the scene to pick up his knife. He left without speaking to his terrified victim.
Yolande managed to run to a nearby house to raise the alarm and police were called.
In the years that followed the attack, despite a police investigation, Clark was not caught.
However, thanks to the hard work of Essex Police’s Cold Case Investigation Team, officers made a breakthrough in the case in 2017.
Developments in forensic science meant samples taken from Yolande at the time were re-examined using more sophisticated techniques. They were then checked against the National DNA Database and found to match Clark.
Clark, 68, of HMP Lincoln was arrested and charged with rape in January this year.
He admitted the offence at a hearing at Basildon Crown Court on Thursday August 2.
Today he was given a 13-year custodial term with a five-year extended licence.
Speaking after the sentencing, Yolande told how the attack not only affected the rest of her teenage years but also led her to quit her job and affected her ability to maintain relationships.
“Every day I look over my shoulder and I have flashbacks constantly.
“I try to stay happy, cheerful and positive around others but they just don’t know what haunts me in my head because of what that man did to me.
“I will forever carry this scar, the scar he made, but nothing makes me happier than knowing he will never get the chance to ever hurt anyone again.”
Following the sentencing Senior Investigating Officer DCI Stephen Jennings of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said:
“Today Yolande, the survivor of a horrific attack perpetrated by a dangerous sexual predator, has shown courage beyond words – she is an inspiration to all of us.
“She has not only today, in court, confronted the man who raped her as a teenage girl but she has chosen to waive her anonymity in order to speak about her ordeal and offer strength to others who have been subjected to sexual offences.
“I hope, after 33 years of anguish and being haunted by what happened, that today has given her the justice she has waited for all these years.
“There is no doubt Clark planned his attack all those years ago, watching Yolande as she walked to work in the days leading up to the attack.
“His offending history shows him to be an extremely dangerous and ruthless predator and thankfully he will remain behind bars for the rest of his life.
“Essex Police as a force is wholly committed to delivering justice to all victims.
“No unsolved case is ever closed and our Cold Case Investigation Team continue to explore new lines of enquiry and use advances in DNA and other technology to bring offenders to justice.”
If you have been the victim of sexual violence then contact Essex Police on 101.
The Essex Partnership or Rape Crisis Centres (Synergy Essex) offers a range of specialist support and information to victims and survivors who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives. The service supports for those who have or have not reported their experience to Police. The Synergy Essex information and support line can be contacted on 0300 003 7777 or visit their website www.synergyessex.org.uk.
Christopher Clark – Offending History:
1966 – Convicted for indecent exposure.
1978 – Convicted at Long Ashton Magistrates’ Court for indecently assault on a female under the age of 14. Offence happened in Bristol. Given a 12-month probation order.
1981 – Convicted at Bristol Magistrates’ for assault occasioning actual bodily harm in Bristol. Two-year conditional discharge.
1986 – In 1986 Clark was arrested and charged with 13 offences including rape and burglary with intent to rape. The offences happened in South Benfleet, Grays, Great Baddow, South Woodham Ferrers, Hornchurch and Upminster. Press dubbed Clark the “early bird rapist” as during the offences he would watch the homes of his victims, waiting for their husbands to leave before in some cases threatening them with knives, sexually touching them and in two cases raping them. During the incidents in Hornchurch and Upminster he raped the women in their own home.
1996 to present – Clark is currently serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting and attempting to suffocate a young teacher in Bath in July 1996. At the time Clark had only been out of prison for three-months after serving a 14-year prison sentence for another sex offence. Clark attacked the woman yards from the bail hostel where he was staying and placed a bag over her head before indecently assaulting her.
2018 – Thursday August 2 at Basildon Crown Court Clark pleads guilty to rape in relation to the rape of the then 18-year-old Yolande Kennedy on September 17 1985 in Clockhouse Lane, North Stifford. On Monday September 3 he is sentenced to 13-years with a five year extended licence.