Widow, 84, raped and left trapped in in wardrobe: Detective says intruder's vicious attack was worst she had seen in 18 years' service. Terry Kirby reports

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The Independent Online
AN 84-YEAR-OLD widow who was beaten and raped by an intruder had been left to die imprisoned inside an overturned wardrobe, Scotland Yard detectives said yesterday. They said that the woman was in a stable condition in hospital but was likely to remain there for some time.

The woman, who lives alone in the Camden Town area of north London, was only rescued by police - after she had spent more than two hours inside the wardrobe - when a neighbour became concerned about her welfare.

Although she has been interviewed by detectives, police said her condition is such that they have not been able to obtain a detailed account of her ordeal.

Detective Inspector Judy Wright, who is leading the investigation, told a press conference that the woman was 'quite poorly', and although she was a strong individual, she was obviously still very confused and distressed.

According to the account the woman has been able to give to police, she was asleep in her ground- floor dining-room last Friday afternoon, when she awoke to find an intruder standing over her and brandishing a kitchen knife.

He beat her on her arms, legs and head in what DI Wright described as a 'vicious attack'. He then went into the kitchen where he cooked and ate a meal of bacon and eggs. In an attempt to escape, the woman ran upstairs into her bedroom. 'She was absolutely terrified, she was trying to get into a room she thought would be safe,' said DI Wright. She was caught in the bedroom by the intruder, who raped her.

The man then bundled her into a wardrobe, which he overturned onto its front, with the door facing the floor. He piled furniture on top of the wardrobe and left the house.

Police believe the woman's ordeal lasted nearly four hours. The rapist was in the house for about two hours and she was inside the wardrobe for a further two hours before a neighbour became suspicious of a broken downstairs window, the rapist's suspected means of entry to the house. It has not yet been established whether anything was stolen.

DI Wright said that if the neighbour had not alerted them, the police would have had a murder inquiry on their hands: 'I think he left her with the intention she didn't get out.' It was the worst case she had seen in 18 years on the force.

The attacker was described as white, 5ft 8in to 5ft 10in tall, of medium build. He was in his mid- twenties, with fair gingerish hair, brushed back off his face. He was wearing a sandy coloured sports jacket and blue-grey trousers. He had no strong accent.

Police have appealed for anyone in the Rochester Square area of Camden Town who saw anything suspicious to contact the incident room at Kentish Town police station on 071 388 1212.