Raped Austrian tourist to marry police counsellor

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The Austrian tourist gang-raped by eight youths has fallen in love with the police officer who counselled her after the attack.

Alexandra Sablatnig, 33, met Constable Ted Grimwood, 56, after suffering a 45-minute rape and being thrown into a canal and left to drown by a teenage gang in September 1996. Their relationship began shortly after Ms Sablatnig's rapists were sentenced at the Old Bailey in London last April to a total of 89 years.

German-speaking PC Grimwood, who is separated but not divorced, flew to Vienna last May when the couple realised that they missed each other's company. Ms Sablatnig moved into the police officer's home in Perivale, West London, in September with her two children and yesterday announced their plans to marry.

Ms Sablatnig, who waived her legal right to anonymity, said: "I known some people will think what has happened between Ted and me is unusual and others might think I am using him as some sort of support system. I am not. I love him for him, and believe we would have fallen in love had I been a shop worker and he a taxi driver. Ted does not remind me of the rape at all, neither does England."

PC Grimwood still works as a rape counselling specialist at Islington police station, near the canal in King's Cross, north London, where the attack took place, but is said to be considering resigning from the force.

A spokeswoman for Scotland Yard said yesterday: "It is a personal matter for the officer concerned. If it is found he hasn't done anything during the investigation which warrants disciplinary action then we won't get involved."

Ms Sablatnig's marriage toMario, 34, a train driver, broke up when he blamed her for the attack, asking why she did not return to London so she could be raped again. He said: "Now she is in a stable relationship it has helped us to become better friends