Town's 'shock and horror' at rapes

COMMUNITY leaders in Brandon have spoken of their “shock and horror” after two women were raped within hours of each other.

Laurence Cawley

COMMUNITY leaders in Brandon have spoken of their “shock and horror” after two women were raped within hours of each other.

Those living in the town woke yesterday to find heightened numbers of police officers patrolling the town and two areas cordoned off.

Eddie Stewart, Brandon councillor and member champion for community safety on Forest Heath District Council, told how he had received a number of calls from concerned residents keen to find out exactly what had happened.

The incidents came less than a year after Robert English, a married father-of-two from Fiddlewood Green in Norwich, kidnapped a 21-year-old woman from the Tesco store in Brandon before raping her.

He was originally sentenced to life imprisonment, serving a minimum of seven-and-a-half years, but last week that was cut to five years and four months by appeal court judges.

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Mr Stewart said: “I am just horrified because having had the Robert English thing and what has happened with his appeal added to this, it doesn't make you feel happy with your town.

“Normally Brandon is considered a safe area and Suffolk is one of the safest counties. From a community point of view I am horrified. There is shock and horror at this in Brandon.”

He told how the rapes were being talked about widely in the community and how residents were trying to piece together what had happened from rumour and hearsay.

“We need to know more as to what happened. I am not sure of the details. Everybody is shocked by this.”

County councillor for Brandon, Bill Bishop, told how he learned of the two incidents when his son-in-law called him asking why the playing fields were cordoned off.

He said: “It is absolutely ghastly - we just don't expect this type of thing in a small Suffolk town. It is bad enough to have one, but to have two - it is just frightening for people in the town.

“It just stuns me to think that this has happened, that anything like that could happen in Brandon. We will all have to be more vigilant.”

According to Home Office figures, sex offences rose 24% between 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 from 41 to 51 in the Forest Heath district.