A convicted rapist from Stowmarket described as an ‘extremely dangerous sexual predator’ has been sentenced to life in prison.
Clive Howard, 57, of Bury Street, was jailed at Norwich Crown Court today after admitting a series of rape and kidnap offences in Norwich and Cambridge dating back to 1986.
He was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years and three months.
Detective Sergeant Chris Burgess, who led the investigation, welcomed the sentence.
He said: “Howard is an extremely dangerous sexual predator and I am under no illusion that more women would have been attacked had he not been caught.
“The life sentence demonstrates the seriousness of his actions; Howard would prey on women walking alone at night and there is no doubt the streets are a safer place with Howard in prison.”
Howard first came to the attention of police last year when officers investigating the rape of a woman in Norwich identified the Stowmarket man as a suspect.
The incident happened on 30 May 2014 when the victim, a woman aged in her 20s, was walking home after a night out and got a lift from a passing Volvo being driven by Howard.
She was taken to St Helens Wharf car park near to the Adam and Eve pub and raped.
After the attack the victim tried taking a photograph of the car’s number plate however Howard grabbed her phone, throwing it into a bush before driving off at speed.
The woman managed to find her phone and contacted a friend before dialling 999.
Police examined CCTV footage and were able to get part of a number plate and other features, a sunroof and roof-rack.
This allowed officers to narrow the search for similar cars in the local area and eventually identify Howard as the registered owner of the car involved.
As a result of his arrest, Howard’s DNA was put on the national database and enquiries revealed a match to an unsolved case in Cambridgeshire in 2013.
Detectives started investigating this offence and found ‘striking similarities’ to the Norwich case.
Howard’s DNA matched a profile obtained during an investigation into the attempted kidnap of a woman in her 20s on May 5, 2013, in Cambridgeshire.
The woman had managed to fend off her attacker, scratching him in the process, and a DNA was later retrieved from underneath her fingernail.
He was linked to three other attempted kidnappings in Cambridgeshire.
In total Howard was charged with seven counts of rape, three counts of attempted kidnap and one count of attempted rape, relating to offences between 1986 and 2014.
The offences involve six victims who are all adult women.
Since his conviction police have received about a dozen calls from women across the region and officers continue to follow-up potential leads.
DS Burgess added: “Victims of sexual assault can be reassured we investigate offences thoroughly and sensitively, regardless of when it happened, and I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward.”
Norfolk’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), The Harbour Centre, operates a 24-hour service for victims of sexual abuse and can be contacted on 0845 456 4810, or call police on 101 to report a crime.
The SARC opened in September 2010 and aims to empower victims by allowing them to report their abuse and undergo medical examinations without prompting a police investigation.
For more information on the Harbour Centre visit www.theharbourcentre.co.uk