Raider 'savagely' beat elderly sisters: Terry Kirby reports on the possible link between a vicious assault and an earlier rape

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The Independent Online
TWO SISTERS, one deaf and aged 88 and the other blind and 84, were in hospital last night after being severely beaten by an intruder at their home in north London.

Scotland Yard said last night that detectives investigating the attack on Tuesday were examining the possibility of links with the brutal rape of an 84-year-old woman at her home in Camden Town, north London, last Friday.

The scenes are about two miles apart. In both cases, a wardrobe was used to imprison the women.

In the Camden Town incident, the woman was left trapped in an overturned wardrobe; in the later attack, a wardrobe was used to block a door and prevent the sisters getting out.

Police said Lillian Notley, the deaf sister, who was in intensive care in hospital, suffered a smashed skull, jaw and ribs, and a collapsed lung in the attack at the women's ground-floor flat in Islington. Her condition was said to be critical.

Her blind sister, Phoebe Notley, suffered severe bruising about the face and was in deep shock. She was also being treated in hospital.

Detective Superintendent John Farley, who is leading the inquiry, said: 'The mind boggles how anyone could attack anyone of this age. He should be put away for the rest of his life. One never ceases to be amazed by the violence inflicted on people.'

Detectives said they were still trying to establish what had happened, a problem made difficult by the women's age and condition. Police are still unsure whether anything was stolen.

According to the account given to police, the intruder knocked on the door and when the elder Miss Notley opened it, he pushed past and 'systematically and savagely' beat her. He found her sister in bed and punched her in the face, then ransacked and wrecked the flat.

Before leaving, the attacker made sure the women could not get help. He pushed a wardrobe against the door and ripped out the telephone wire. Police were called after neighbours heard the sisters calling.

A neighbour said the sisters, who are unmarried and have lived together all their lives, had been broken into three or four times recently. Lilian Protti, 65, who has known them for 25 years, added: 'They were active ladies. They used to help people. They were really good people.'

Amanda Coverdale, 25, another neighbour, said: 'They were born and brought up in a different age, but they were still able to get about and it's awful that this should have happened to them.'

A spokesman for Islington council said the sisters had been offered a place in sheltered accommodation, but had preferred to stay where they were.

A pregnant woman was found stabbed to death in her car at a supermarket car park, police said yesterday. Alison Thorpe, 27, of Ramsgate, Kent, was found in the front of her blue Y-registration Nissan Stanza car in the Lo-Cost car park in nearby Broadstairs.

She had a 13-month-old son named Gareth and had just discovered she was a few weeks pregnant. She lived with her boyfriend, who is the father of Gareth and the unborn child. Two men, aged 24 and 26, were being questioned about the killing, police said.