Eve was attacked in her own home by a neighbour. It was reported immediately to the police by witnesses who saw her flee from her home as her attacker chased after her into the street. She endured a gruelling police investigation, as well as uncertainty as to what measures would support her through the court process. Eventually her attacker, who had 40 years’ of sexual offending history, pled guilty during trial, and was sentenced to a minimum of four years and three months, and received an Order for Lifelong Restriction, which means that he is extremely unlikely ever to be released from custody. Eve continues to seek clarity around the process that failed to protect her from such an attack by a known sex offender, as well as continuing to seek justice in other ways.
After being held at knife point in my flat at 8am for 30 minutes, I managed to escape and ran into the street. There was no question but that the police would be involved, as several people had already called them. That said, I would definitely have reported the attack anyway, as I believed that I might be killed.
My attacker chased me down the street in front of witnesses. A couple gave me their mobile phone, and I talked briefly to the police. I asked the man to accompany me back to my flat to secure it and check that my pets were safe. I couldn’t find them at first, which was very stressful. A neighbour took me into her house, and within a few minutes there was a big police presence with several cars and a van. After giving a brief statement, I was taken to the local police station where I sat for a long time and swabs were taken. I called my eldest son to come to be with me. A paramedic examined me for possible stab injuries and gave me a blanket as I was very shaky. A SOLO arrived, and I was told she would be with me for the rest of the day. We were driven to the sexual offences unit some distance away. A forensic examination and questioning took place. Further swabs were taken from my mouth, but by this time, I’d had coffee.
A sketch by Eve’s youngest son, titled ‘Exposed’. Eve says that this image captures her feelings during the attack and throughout the justice process.
The statement took six or seven hours of repetition that seemed endless. I found it frustrating that it was never going to be in my words because the Officer was handwriting her take on my narrative, after which it would have to be typed up. She was pleasant, but the time taken was exhausting. Nobody offered me anything to eat that whole day. I was running on adrenaline, but a couple of coffees weren’t enough to stave off exhaustion.
In the evening I was told that I wouldn’t be able to go back to my flat because the forensic team were there. I was really worried about my three cats. They hadn’t been fed and they’d had all this upset, and now more strangers were coming into the house. We went first to my youngest’s flat, where a detective took fingernail scrapings, despite my hands having been washed several times. Eventually, because I’d been so insistent about getting back, he drove me home.
When my attacker forced his way into my flat, I reckon it was about eight in the morning. From then until eleven o’clock at night that was it. I was either in the position of being held hostage in the attack or I was with the police. It was absolutely draining. I emailed the SOLO the next day but never heard from her again, nor from the detective who drove me home and had said he was my single point of contact.
For the first few days normal life just stopped. It was three days before I went out. It was my birthday, and I knew that I had to see my mum to avoid her feeling really hurt. When my attacker had chased me down the street, he’d punched me in the jaw, so I had a huge bruise and swelling. I had choke marks on my neck and had to disguise these with make-up and a scarf.
My attacker was a neighbour, and I knew that he was an alcoholic with a criminal record, but at that point I didn’t know he was a serial sex offender. It turns out that he’s got 40 years’ worth of sexual offending history and was supposed to be managed under the MAPPA process. For him to be housed where he was made it inevitable that something was going to happen. There are no CCTV or entry-phone systems in the cul-de-sac and it’s very easy for anyone to observe their neighbours’ movements. I often had to park outside his house. As it’s near a school and nursery, women on their way there passed too, and he’d engage them in conversation.
I had had no reason to believe that he was any kind of threat to me, though he’d become a nuisance with his attempts to interact with me. I was expecting an Amazon delivery the day of the attack so when the door knocked, I naturally just thought, ‘oh good, they’ve come early’. I would’ve opened the door anyway because he was just a neighbour. I was irritated later when I got comments from police officers about getting a stronger door and so on because that would’ve made no difference. The door not being deadlocked made my escape easier. Some months later I was told that the defence was going to be that sex was consensual. I was very angry. I then hit on the idea of providing all relevant Facebook posts, demonstrating what my attitude to this guy was. For example, I laughed about avoiding him, calling him Mr Dodgy. He probably would’ve said that he was in a relationship with me and that he’d been with me all night drinking. He’d intended to force me at knifepoint to drink whisky. If he’d managed to get me drunk, he could’ve put a totally different slant on events, and I suspect he’s done this before.
A clay cat modelled by Eve, during a session at Rape Crisis. Represents one of Eve’s cats, and the worry she felt for them during and after the attack.
I found the Procurator Fiscal initially dealing with the case patronising. I was given misleading information regarding how long the justice process would take and the process itself. There were several mistakes with letters and emails from the Crown Office. This Depute then left the service but didn’t tell me until her last day. I was in contact with her line manager and was told that whoever was taking over the case would be in touch on return from leave. After about six weeks I’d still heard nothing. I got back in touch. The line manager herself was now on maternity leave until May 2019. I made a fuss and eventually got to find out who was taking the case. I shouldn’t have been left in limbo without a point of contact.
I wasn’t able to confirm special measures until the last minute, when a video link was approved and a meeting with the Advocate Depute arranged. I decided I would reread the statement close to the trial date to refresh myself as to what was in it and to make any changes. The timing five days before the trial date was fine, but the way your statement becomes their property isn’t. You’ve got to go to the Crown Office to read it. For me, there was little sense of ownership.
I felt that I had some control when writing the victim impact statement but even then, because you’re so constrained as to what you’re allowed to include, I found it tricky. You’re not allowed to say anything about the details of the crime or the accused or what impact it’s had on other people in your life. An important thing to me was getting across the fact that it’d been very stressful not being able to tell my elderly mum as she wouldn’t have coped. Everybody else knew apart from her.
My youngest burst into tears when I told him. I felt the shock and horror on the part of others. I had to manage this but have never cried myself.
Some friendships ended or changed in the aftermath because it began to be all about them, not me. In my victim impact statement, I managed to get in about the effect the attack had on my relationship with others, but particularly with the authorities that are supposed to protect the public. I now have little faith there having found out the background, especially the fact that my attacker was supposedly managed as a high-risk sex offender under the MAPPA process.
I felt that I had some control when writing the victim impact statement but even then, because you’re so constrained as to what you’re allowed to include, I found it tricky. You’re not allowed to say anything about the details of the crime or the accused or what impact it’s had on other people in your life.
I was promised sight of the independent significant case review in August 2018 after my attacker pleaded guilty. I’ve now, two years after the attack, and after media involvement, that is October 2019, finally seen an Executive Summary and the Edinburgh MAPPA team’s response. I met with the MAPPA team. I wasn’t satisfied and prepared my own response, emphasising the problematic environmental risk assessment and housing decision. At a second meeting I’ve requested a written response from the MAPPA team, as well as sight of the full report which will be subject to approval. By February 2020, I’d only just had my property returned to me after repeated requests. Throughout my experience, I’ve had to be proactive at every point to get any reaction.
I’ll never entirely get over the attack. It’s something so major that it’s always going to be there. I get flashbacks and have nightmares. At the moment I couldn’t contemplate being in any kind of intimate relationship. Particularly because the attack happened in my home, I’m seeing him where he stood and imagining what could have happened if I hadn’t escaped. I think quite seriously that I could be dead. It’s some consolation that my attacker has received an Order for Lifelong Restriction, but the fear and horror are still there.
I’ll never entirely get over the attack. It’s something so major, it’s always going to be there. It’s some consolation that he received an Order for Lifelong Restriction, but the fear and horror are still there.
A dressing gown cord modelled from clay, based on the gown that Eve was wearing when she escaped. Her attacker had choked her, and threatened repeatedly to strangle her to death. Eve’s dressing gown and other property were only recently returned to her by the police, two and a half years after the attack