September 2018

‘Early bird rapist’ Christopher Clark jailed for 1985 attack

A “sick and twisted” sex offender has been jailed for a knifepoint rape from 1985 following a fresh DNA match.

Christopher Clark attacked the then 18-year-old in Thurrock, Essex, on her way to work but was not traced at the time.

Clark was jailed for life in 1997 for a sex offence in Bath and, after advancements in DNA technology, police linked him to the Essex crime.

The 68-year-old was sentenced at Basildon Crown Court to serve 13 years with a further five on licence.

On 17 September 1985 Yolande Jenkins was walking along Clockhouse Lane, North Stifford, when she was threatened with a knife by Clark, who dragged her into a yard and raped her.

DNA was gathered at the time but it was not until a cold case review in 2017 that Clark was linked to the crime.

He pleaded guilty to the crime in August.

Clark, who gained notoriety for a string of knifepoint sex attacks on women in the 1980s, was arrested and charged in January while in prison.

Ms Jenkins, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she wanted her attacker to know he was not in control and she could move on.

She said: “I want him to know how I feel. He probably won’t care because he is a sick twisted old man, but it is good for me that I have that chance.”

Describing the attack, she said Clark grabbed her by the throat and threatened her with a knife, telling her he did not want to hurt her.

“The trauma from it all never goes away,” she said. “You have constant nightmares, always wondering if someone running up the street is coming to get you. I liked to hope one day he would be found but I never really thought he would.”

Christopher Clark was first convicted of a sexual offence in 1978 after he carried out an indecent assault in Bristol on a girl who was aged under 14.

Eight years later, in 1986, he was arrested and charged with 13 offences, including rape and burglary with intent to rape. The offences happened in South Benfleet, Grays, Great Baddow, South Woodham Ferrers, Hornchurch and Upminster.

These offences saw Clark dubbed the Early Bird Rapist as he would watch his victims in their homes and attack in the morning.

In 1996 he was jailed for life after sexually assaulting and attempting to suffocate a young woman in Bath. He had only been released from prison three months before.

Sentencing Clark recorder Claire Davies said had he been caught at the time of the offence it could have prevented further attacks.

She said: “It is regrettable, to say the least, that you were not caught then, because then you went on to carry out a campaign of the most serious sexual offences for

which you’re serving a life sentence.”

Ms Jenkins, who is now known as Yolande Kennedy, said she had chosen to speak about the attack to help others who had suffered such experiences.

She said: “I want to look at the whites of his eyes and let him know how he has made me feel over the years. I want to tell him he is not in control anymore. He obviously is the kind of person who needs to overpower women and I hope he never gets to do that again.

“I just hope he never gets out.”