Jill Saward, Ealing vicarage rape victim, dies aged 51

Ealing vicarage rape victim Jill Saward has died aged 51.

Ealing vicarage rape victim Jill Saward. Picture: PA

The vicar’s daughter - who became the first rape victim to waive her anonymity to speak about a sexual assault - was 21 when she was attacked in at her home 1986, while her father and boyfriend were tied up.

The attack received widespread attention not just for its brutality, but also due to a comment in the subsequent trial when judge Mr Justice Leonard said the trauma suffered by her “had not been so great”.

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She went on to write a book about the attack, which came to be known as the Ealing Vicarage Rape, and campaign on issues including sexual violence and violence against women.

One of her recent battles was against a proposal to give people accused of rape anonymity until they are convicted, saying this implied victims were lying.

Under anonymity rules in place at the time of her case, Ms Saward was not allowed to know the name of her rapist until the day of the court hearing.

She said that the shock of learning the name in court distracted her from concentrating on the evidence she had to give.

Ms Saward, born in Liverpool in 1965, once wrote she had no issues with being “tagged” as a rape victim, adding: “I make no complaint about this tag as it has enabled me to challenge politicians and work for change.”

In a statement on her website from her family said: “It is with deep shock and great sadness that we must announce that Jill Saward (Jill Drake) died this morning in New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, following a subarachnoid haemorrhage on Tuesday. She was 51-years old.

“In consultation with medical staff, the family readily agreed to Jill’s desire to be an organ donor.

“Jill dedicated the past 30 years of her life to helping other people. It gives us great comfort to know that our wonderful wife, mother and sister was able to help other people to the very end. We would like to thank all those who contributed to her medical care in recent days.

“We are also so very grateful for the many expressions of prayer, love and support we have received.

“At this stage we would appreciate space and time to come to terms with what has happened.”