Help find sex attacker who left me for dead at age eight and is still at large 20 years later
A woman has broken her 20-year silence to beg for help finding the man who raped and left her for dead when she was just eight.
The youngster was sexually abused before the attacker tried to hang her from a tree. When the branch broke, he struck her on the head with a brick.
Earlier this week detectives made a new appeal to find her attacker, releasing sketches of a man they believe was responsible.
The victim told the Belfast Telegraph it is vital the perpetrator is caught, and described how the day – which she vividly remembers – still haunts her.
"We moved away from the area shortly after," she said.
"I think about it all the time now, especially now I have my own children. I get very angry about it."
She had been playing with a friend near Barcroft Community Centre in Newry on June 10, 1994, when she was approached by an unknown man.
The attacker – aged in his late teens or early 20s – asked the children to help find his brother.
He separated her from her friend and took her to a wooded area where he attacked her.
She was subjected to a prolonged and violent sexual attack.
As a child she needed extensive counselling afterwards and was afraid to go outside to play with her friends.
The woman said she believes there are those with information which they haven't yet brought to police.
"I believe he was local, from the area, as he knew where to go. He had a plan," she said.
"If anybody in the area who knows something and for whatever reason didn't at the time, please come forward now.
"He's got away with it for 20 years and the fear is he has done it since and could do it again."
A neighbouring resident told how the distraught eight-year-old climbed into her back garden begging for help after the savage attack.
Annette Daly said memories of the youngster, covered in blood and terrified, still regularly upset her.
"Just one look at her dishevelled body and I knew something traumatic and awful had happened to her," she said.
"I lowered myself down to her eye level and began to comfort her. I was telling her that she could trust us and all would now be okay."
How to help
Detectives have appealed to members of the public who may have information and have not already contacted them to phone the investigating team.
They also want to hear from any member of the public who initially came forward in 1994 but has not made contact with the team since.
A couple who met the little boy who had been with the victim and was in a distressed state, and two boys who had been playing at the community centre on the day of the assault, are also urged to come forward.
Call the PSNI Serious Crime Branch on 028 3836 6274.