‘I know I am not the only one he has raped’ – woman left for dead after horror attack at 8 years old breaks silence

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Simone

aged 8

By Patricia Devlin

A WOMAN left for dead in a sickening sex attack when she was just eight years-old has broken her silence for the first time.
Brave Simone Cunnane from Newry, Co Down, has waived her right to anonymity to tell the Sunday World: “I know the identity of the stranger who raped me.”
The mum-of-two, 31, says she has now made a formal complaint to police, who are investigating her claims 24 years on.
The revelation comes after news a man in his 40s – also from the Newry area – was recently arrested in relation to the 1994 attempted murder.
In a child sex attack that shocked the nation, Simone was playing with a pal close to her Loanda Crescent home when a man lured her into nearby woodland.
He tied a rope around her neck, subjected her to a prolonged sex assault and then hung her from a tree.
The monster then hit her over the head with a brick and raped her as she lay unconscious.
Believing she was dead her attacker fled, leaving the bloodied youngster tied up and alone.
Miraculously she survived and broke free before raising the alarm.
Today she tells her story for the first time and reveals how she is helping other women who believe the same predator attacked them.
“This man was a stranger up until not that long ago,” she told the Sunday World in an exclusive interview.
“For legal reasons I can’t go into further detail about how I came to discover his identity, but I can say that I know he not only has attacked me but others as well.
“And that is why I am speaking out, because I want to help these women and tell them they aren’t alone, and there is help.”
Recounting the day she was attacked on June 10,1994, Simone told how she had been on her way to play football with a friend.
“It was a Friday around 4pm and we left my house to get sweets and made our way to the (Barcroft Community) centre.
“It wasn’t opened, we were about 10 minutes early so we sat outside close to some trees and this is when the man approached us.
“He was smiling and told us he’d lost his wee brother and that sometimes he played in the woods and would we help find him.
“I told him, ‘I’m not allowed in the woods’. But my other friend said sometimes he would play there, so stupidly he went with him.
“I went too and once he got us into the woods he told my friend to go in one direction and then told me that I had to follow him.
“He led me to an overgrowth area and we were sitting on a small muck pile when he reached into his pocket and took out this rope.
“It was tied like a noose and as he took it out he said, ‘my brother give me this before he left’.
“The next thing he had it around my neck and was tightening it. I was choking and I tried to pull it away with my fingers.
“Then I started to shout and he put his hand over my mouth, told me to shut up and that he had a knife.
“I begged him, ‘please, don’t do this’.
In the woodland, set within Daisy Hill Nursery, Simone was subjected to a relentless series of sex assaults.
“He did things to me and he made me do things to him,” she said.
“He then told me to stand up, he had the rope on me still, and he took me towards a tree where there was a bit of an embankment.
“With the rope that was on my neck, he tied the other part of it to a branch and pushed me off the embankment and I was swinging from the tree.
“As I was grabbing at my neck to try to get the rope off I could see him standing in front of me, smiling.
“At some point I must have went unconscious and the tree branch snapped. This is when he hit me on the back of the head with the brick.
“I have a scar on the back of my head still from it. I was told after that he raped me when I was lying there, unconscious.”
Simone woke up sometime later, covered in blood and mud.
“He must have pulled me back up and tied me to the tree,” she said.
“There was muck in my mouth, all over my face, and I was being sick, vomiting.
“There was blood all over me and I remember looking down and seeing all these knots – he had tied loads all over the rope. I was in a panic, I didn’t know if he was still there, or if he was still watching me.
“I was able to get my foot out and eventually I got free.”
The eight-year-old made her way through the woods and into the garden of a family home where a man was watering his flowers.
He spotted the distressed child and went to her rescue.
“I must have collapsed and when I woke he was lifting me up and I remember saying to him, ‘please don’t hurt me, too’.
“His wife wrapped a sheet around me and I can remember hearing them talking about taking me to hospital.”
It was around 7pm when a traumatised Simone was taken to Daisy Hill Hospital where doctors and nurses sprung into action and called police.
Her devastated parents, who were out looking for their daughter at the time, raced to her bedside.
Simone was examined and interviewed by police who took away her clothes and a number of items from the scene of the attack.
But despite a high profile investigation and numerous appeals over 23 years, no-one has been convicted of the despicable attack.
In February 2013, police re-opened the attempted murder investigation.
Detectives released two computer generated images of the suspect.
Last week a PSNI spokesman confirmed that a man on January 30, a man was arrested as part of the police investigation. He was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Simone, who last week bravely returned to the scene of the attack, said: “I always did believe the person responsible was from the area.
He knew where he was going, it was pre-meditated as he had everything with him.
“What is disturbing is that since that day the man who attacked me has been walking the streets. I know I am not the only one he has attacked.”
Simone, who received support from sexual abuse counselling charity Nexus, has been contacted by numerous women who say they believe the evil predator also attacked them.
She is now now working with Women’s Aid and Nexus to run a support group for those women.
“I went to a lady called Fiona in the Newry Women’s Aid office and explained to her my story.
“I told her how there other girls had come forward to me believing they have been attacked by the same man.
“So we came up with the idea that these women, and anyone else who might come forward, can go to Women’s Aid and get support, and counselling with Nexus.
“Some of these people are ready to go to police and some are not. But the support is there for them,”
Anyone who wishes to make contact with the group can phone Fiona at Newry Women’s Aid on 028 3025 0765.
ENDS

Abused, raped and forced to give birth at 12 years-old

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Rape victim Anne – pic by Gary Ashe, Irish Daily Star

ABUSED at the age of two, gang raped by eight and giving birth to twins at 12.

This is the horrific story of a Dublin woman who was the victim of an Irish paedophile ring – which included her grandfather, dad and uncles.

Today Anne, not her real name, speaks about the endless years of abuse she suffered at the hands of the male and female gang of sex predators – and how she hopes to be reunited with the son she gave birth to after being raped.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him,” she said in an emotional interview.

“He is 14 now, and I hope and pray he is safe…but I don’t know. All I want is answers.”

Anne, who is now 27, says she was forced to give birth in secret after falling pregnant to one of her abusers at the age of 11.

Just months into her first year of secondary school, and shortly after celebrating her 12th birthday, she went into labour as she walked to class.

I wasn’t very good at going to school anyway, I knew how to skip out, so that’s what I did,” she said.

I could only go to the people who knew I was pregnant, my relatives who were also my abusers. And I was taken to a bedroom in one of their homes. “

Anne says that a number of people, including an uncle and two woman, were present in the Dublin house where she went through hours of gruelling labour, without pain relief or medical help.

She gave birth to a little boy, who she named Jamie.

He was healthy….crying straight away. Then I said to one of the woman, I need to push again.
This time the baby didn’t cry, he was stillborn.
She said: “I got to stay with them both for a little while, because they (abusers) started to panic. They didn’t know what to do, they kept saying, we didn’t know she was having two.
“Then they came back, and then they told me put the stillborn baby into a box, then in to a bag. Then they made me put him before him in the bin.
Breaking down in tears, Anne said: “They told me had to do it, because it was my fault I got pregnant.”

The next day, as the 12 year-old child stayed holed up in her abuser’s home, the baby boy was removed from her care.

Anne believes the child was illegally registered and brought up not that far from the house where he was born.

She does not know what ever became of the tiny, lifeless body of his brother.

I don’t know if my other son ended up in the bin truck or if he was buried in the garden of one of their (abusers) homes” she said. “Again, I don’t know. It is something I think about every day.”

Her shocking case echoes that of the Dalkey ‘House of Horrors’ horror, which involved Cynthia Owen who gave birth to a baby girl when she was a child.
The baby was stabbed to death and dumped in a laneway. No one has ever been charged in relation to that case.

The years of abuse finally ended when Anne turned 15.

I was no good to them anymore, I was no longer a child,” she said.

As she reached her late teens, she was eventually moved away from her abusive relatives, but still struggled with the effect of the abuse.

In 2014, after years of self harm and suicidal attempts, Anne opened up to a close female relative about her hell, and then bravely went to gardai.

The Minister of Justice has since ordered a full garda report into the alleged sex ring case.

The Garda Commissioner and Tusla child and family agency have also been notified.

The Star has also seen a letter from a gynaecologist who examined Anne in a bid to prove her pregnancy to gardai.
In the letter dated January 22, 2016, a gynaecologist wrote: “I would not dispute the fact that she could have been pregnant previously.”

One of her abusers, a convicted paedophile, passed away before Anne could report the abuse.

Despite the rest being questioned by gardai, they all still walk the streets.

I know for a fact there are other victims.” she said. “I know because we abused in front of one another.

We were even made to abuse each other. It was an open secret.”

Although Anne hopes that her alleged abusers will face justice, she says her main priority is finding the son who was cruelly stolen from her.

I want to find my son and be reunited with him,” she said. “If he is in a safe and loving home, I wouldn’t dream of taking him away from that. “But what if he is not? What if he is in danger?”

This story originally appeared in the Irish Daily Star in April 2016