Teenage rape victim’s dismay as attacker could be free in two years

A WOMAN has spoken of her two-year ordeal after a thug who subjected her to a horrific sex attack in a common stair was jailed.

Colin Notman, 20, was sentenced to four years at the High Court in Edinburgh after he was found guilty of raping the victim, who was 17 at the time, as she walked home from a party.

Now 19, the woman agreed to tell the Evening News her story in the hope it will encourage other victims to overcome any fears about contacting the police.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Despite her bravery, the 19-year-old admitted she had been left “shattered” by the rape in August 2009, which led her to fail her college course, develop a drinking problem, lose her job and become withdrawn, despite “huge support” from her family.

There are still parts of the night that she does not remember, she said, because her drink had been spiked with a date-rape drug.

But she suffers sometimes horrific flashbacks and on the first anniversary of the attack she had been so traumatised she tried to scratch off her own skin.

The teenager, who wishes to stay anonymous, said she could not understand why Notman had been given such a lenient sentence that he could walk free in just two-and-a-half years. Speaking quietly but firmly, she said that she did not want others to be afraid of telling the police when they had been the victim of a sex attack. It had taken her several weeks to find the courage to do so.

But after giving evidence in Notman’s trial at the High Court and seeing him convicted she said she was now looking to “get on with life”,

Recalling the traumatic details, the victim, from Wester Hailes, said she believed she had been drugged at a party held by her friend, who was Notman’s girlfriend at the time and was heavily pregnant when the incident occurred.

“I only knew Colin as he was my friend’s boyfriend. We weren’t close,” she said. “On the night it happened, we went back to her house in Restalrig at around 10pm.

“There were nine people there and we were drinking, but I didn’t drink very much at all, just a bit of Lambrini and a vodka and coke. I left to go home at around 11.30pm so I could get the night bus, but suddenly I started feeling so unwell. I felt sick, dizzy and my eyes were glazed.

“I had to go and sit in a stairwell and I remember putting my hands on my head.

“The next thing I knew, I woke up and I was naked. I was lying on the stairs. My clothes were lying to the side of me. I started putting my tights back on, when I realised I could hear Colin and two other boys arguing outside. Colin came back through and he was doing his jeans up. I remember screaming, telling him ‘no’ and trying to get away from him when he was on top of me, but most of it is a blur.

“The two other boys later said that they had sex with me that night. I don’t remember any of it. It is completely blank.

“I remember sitting in the stair afterwards and crying. I told the two boys that I wanted to tell my friend but they said ‘No, don’t do that’. Eventually I walked to the bus stop with the boys.

“At one point we stopped at a kebab shop and I tried to signal to the man behind the counter that something was wrong. I dropped my bag and money and tried to catch his eye, but he didn’t get it.

“Eventually I got home. I went to bed and cried. There were bruises all over my back.”

She was so traumatised she did not tell anyone for several weeks. “I didn’t want to believe it had happened,” she said. “I just wanted to move on. But I got the courage to tell my sister and then my family. On September 10, I went to the police.

“I’d blocked it out for so many weeks, and then it felt real. I started drinking anything and everything I could get my hands on. I would go to work drunk and I’d drink at work. I eventually lost my job as a chambermaid.

“At the same time I had been doing a childcare course, but I failed it. I had to stop doing a business course because of how I felt. I’ve been seeing a counsellor and that helped me stop drinking.”

Her aunt recalled how one year after the attack the trauma led the teenager to scratch the skin off her body whilst taking a shower. She said: “We saw that she’d scratched and scratched herself. There were scratches all over her.

“Certain things seem to trigger memories off. Sometimes she’ll be sitting on the sofa really quietly and I’ll ask her what she is thinking. She just says ‘nothing’. It looks like she is in another world.

“Whenever we’re picking her up, if we’re even a couple of minutes late, she’ll phone to ask where we are. She’s always anxious to get home. Me and her mum try to keep her motivated. We give her the best support network we can.”

Notman, from Wester Hailes, was sentenced to four years in prison on October 10, following a three-day trial. He must serve at least two and a half years and will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.

His victim said: “I don’t understand why it is such a short amount of time. I felt a bit better for a couple of days after, but I want to know exactly what happened that night. I’ll probably never find out. I hate him for what he did.

“In court, he didn’t show remorse. He has always said he didn’t do it, which meant it went all the way through the courts.”

Police could not test for traces of a date-rape drug because most leave the victim’s system within 24 hours. “I don’t know who drugged me, but I do know I’d never felt the way I felt that night ever before, and I’ve never felt that way since,” she said.

“I just want to show other girls that you can speak out about rape. There is support out there. I worried about whether I would get anywhere if I faced court, but it can be done.”