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'i Didn't Die Like He Wanted Me To'

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Assalaamualaikum

 

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Rapist Yonis Dirie is beginning a 10-year prison sentence for his part in the violent attack of a young woman in Stratford, east London, in 1990.

 

After he and another man beat and raped the woman, they tried to dump their semi-conscious victim into a river.

 

Police say it's a "miracle" she landed on a ledge and escaped with her life.

 

Dirie, 40, originally from Somalia, was traced by a Metropolitan police cold case team using new DNA technology to re-investigate stranger rapes from the late 80s and early 90s. His accomplice is still at large.

 

Sixteen years on, his victim has spoken out for the first time about her ordeal.

 

Night bus

 

Every day Julie passes the riverside spot where she was raped, as she takes the train to work.

 

As she stands near the scene of the attack, she says: "I sometimes think 'I could have been found floating in there, half naked'."

 

Speaking the day before Dirie's sentencing at the Old Bailey, she says she is nervous about seeing the face of the man who helped subject her to a double rape at the age of 21.

 

But she wants to look him in the eye, and see him jailed at last.

 

"I also want him to see I'm still here. I didn't lie down and die like he wanted me to. That's one thing that has helped keep me going all these years - I didn't want them to win.

 

"I didn't want them to take my life away, to take my sexuality away."

 

Now 37, Julie - which is not her real name - is settled with her partner of eight years and works as a manager in a cafe.

 

But getting to this point has been a struggle, she says.

 

She had not long moved to Ilford, Essex, when she took the N98 night bus home after being out in London. It was 28 January 1990, and a cold, wintry night.

 

After nodding off she awoke suddenly and, still unfamiliar with the area, got off at the wrong stop.

 

The two men approached her and convinced her there was another bus stop around the corner that would get her home.

 

They led her to Marshgate Lane, an area that will soon be transformed by the 2012 London Olympics project.

 

(continued below...)

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"The next thing I was under a bridge by the river. They pushed me up against a wall and one of them punched me and my head slammed into the wall. One was egging his mate on, telling him what to do."

 

Both men raped her, and every time she tried to fight they beat her more.

 

"In the beginning I thought I was being mugged, but by this time I was pleading for my life," says Julie.

 

She slipped out of consciousness and came to as the pair were pushing her over a wall to the river. She believes it was Dirie who kicked her fingers as she tried to cling on, but remembers his accomplice telling him to stop, and the pair ran off.

 

She had landed on a concrete ledge, and managed to climb back onto the road.

 

Julie escaped through a nearby industrial estate and was picked up by an Evening Standard newspaper van driver, who took her straight to the nearest police station.

 

She was left with a fractured skull, dislocated jaw and eyes so bloody she couldn't see out of one for a month.

 

The case was widely covered at the time - including an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme - and local papers dubbed Julie 'The Marshgate Lane girl', she says.

 

"I just couldn't believe what had happened. Maybe I was naive but I just couldn't believe how awful it felt."

 

One of the hardest things, says Julie, was watching how the attack affected her friends and family.

 

"Everyone around me was just devastated," says Julie, who moved to London from the North East when she was sixteen.

 

 

Her then boyfriend and her best friend - who was out with her that night but travelled home separately - both felt guilty but were at loggerheads, blaming each other for letting it happen.

 

The rape also contributed to the breakdown of her parents' marriage, and her two younger sisters were caught in the crossfire, she says.

 

'Hit the bottle'

 

Julie stumbled through the first year after the attack, working on and off in cleaning and chambermaid jobs to keep going financially.

 

"I couldn't sleep, I couldn't get up for work, it was a struggle."

 

She didn't confide in many people because she was reluctant to be seen as a "rape case" and initially refused help from Victim Support - a decision she is glad she later reversed.

 

A year after the attack she received £15,000 in criminal injuries compensation, which she says made everything suddenly "seem real".

 

"I hit the bottle, big time. I was drinking in the mornings, all day, all night long. I kept a bottle of whisky in my handbag. I just didn't care, it felt like dirty money."

 

She was sacked from numerous jobs for turning up late, or drunk.

 

"The whole of my 20s were screwed up."

 

Julie continued to live in the area in which the rape happened, always hoping the men would be caught, even that she might spot them herself one day.

 

Then last August she got the call. The Met's Cold Case Rape Investigation Unit, set up in 2003, had taken the original evidence and had it reviewed by forensic scientists.

 

 

Dirie was arrested on 21 September 2005 and charged the following day. He didn't plead guilty to the rape until earlier this month.

 

 

(continued below...)

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Assalamu alaikum

 

Only 10 years for rape? She has to live with the ordeal for the rest of her life and he shall be out in 10 years. :D

 

Ma'assalama

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'Caught out'

 

Detective Constable Andy Lawrence, of the cold case team, said they were still trying to trace the second man, and hoped Dirie would "find it in himself" to assist in the search.

 

 

He said getting convictions in such cases was "tremendously satisfying" for the officers involved.

 

"I couldn't believe after all these years they had got him," says Julie.

 

"It got to me that he was out there all that time. I would get so low, and wonder if he was swanning around, laughing, having a family perhaps - or was he inflicting it on someone else?".

 

"I just can't believe his stupidity. He's screwed up my life, screwed up his life, and for what?"

 

"I hope he has a lovely time in prison and that everyone knows what he's done."

 

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Wassalaams.

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