E-fit created to help solve gang rape of teenager in 1978

January 21, 2020 6:00:00 AM

The gang rape of a teenager more than 40 years ago by members of a touring rugby team is being investigated by detectives.

The 17-year-old victim was subjected to multiple rapes by several men at a hotel in Plymouth in 1978.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the men were thought to be part of a rugby club visiting Plymouth from South Wales.

The alleged offences took place on a Saturday in late January or early February in 1978 at the now closed Strathmore Hotel in Elliot Street.

The victim and her friend had been socialising in the Safari Club – now known as the Notte Inn – when they met a man, believed to be in his twenties.

An image of the now closed Strathmore Hotel
An image of the now closed Strathmore Hotel (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

He said he was a maths teacher and was part of a sports team on tour from South Wales. The girl left her friend and went with the teacher to his room at the Strathmore Hotel.

Around an hour later a large group of men, believed to have been known to the teacher, barged into the room and the victim was subjected to multiple rapes.

The men who committed the offence were all described as white, clean shaven and believed to be in their twenties.

Afterwards, during the early evening, the teacher and another man visited the Duke of Cornwall Hotel with the traumatised girl and her friend.

Police are trying to trace these two men as vital witnesses. The victim has helped create e-fit images of them.

Detective Superintendent Jo Hall, who is leading the investigation, said: “I believe these men are the key to identifying the individuals who carried out this horrendous attack as it is clear that the group of men are known to each other.

A map showing the locations involved in the investigation
A map showing the locations involved in the investigation (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

“We must remember that these images are based on the men in 1978, over 40 years ago, so they would have changed considerably in that time and are likely to be in their sixties now.

“I would like to hear from anyone who recognises these men and I would remind the public that I am seeking these men as witnesses to a horrific crime upon a young female.”

As part of the investigation, detectives are also appealing for the help of anyone who was working or staying at the hotel at the time.

Ms Hall added: “These offences have had a significant impact upon the life of this woman and they remain with her to this day.

“Although this happened over 40 years ago there is every likelihood that allegiances have changed in that time and now is the time to do the right thing.

“If you recognise either of these men or have any information about these offences or who could have committed them please contact us. I need the help of the public to trace the men responsible.”

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