Victim of gang rape by 'South Wales rugby players' in 1978 urges witnesses to come forward

The victim of an alleged gang rape by a group of rugby players more than 40 years ago has made a direct appeal to two witnesses to name her attackers.

Detectives have released e-fit images of two witnesses who may hold information about the reported rape which took place in 1978.

The reported crimes took place on a Saturday in late January or early February in 1978 at the now closed Strathmore Hotel, Elliot Street.

It is believed the men were visiting Plymouth from South Wales and were from a touring rugby team.

The woman is said to have been overpowered and raped at the hotel. After the incident, the woman was taken to another hotel by two other members of the rugby team, one of whom was believed to be a teacher.

In her appeal to those two men, she said: "You appeared at the time to want to stop the attack on me, and you also appeared to be shocked by the action of your teammates.

"I would like you to know that I was very young and very scared and that the impact of your teammates' rape on that Saturday afternoon has affected me every day for 42 years.

"The shame of not being able to stop the attack caused me to leave home, aged 17. Even now at 59, I suffer from PTSD.

"There are not many people who truly get the opportunity in their lives to right such a dreadful wrong.

"The fact that you actually know the identities of all of my rapists gives you this unique opportunity. Please help me by coming forward and identifying your teammates who raped me."

The victim and her friend had been out socialising in the Safari Club, now known as the Notte Inn, in Plymouth when they met a man, believed to be in his 20s. He said he was a maths teacher and was part of a sports team on tour from South Wales.

Police said the girl left her friend and went with the teacher to his room at the Strathmore Hotel. Around an hour later, a large group of men, believed to have been known to the teacher, barged into the room and the victim was subjected to multiple rapes. The men who committed the offence were all described as white, clean shaven and believed to be in their 20s.

The offences are said to have taken place at Strathmore Hotel in 1978 Credit: Devon and Cornwall Police

Police are trying to trace two men as witnesses and the victim has helped create e-fit images of them.

Detective Superintendent Jo Hall, Senior Investigating Officer, said: “I believe these men are the key to identifying the individuals who carried out this horrendous attack as it is clear that the group of men are known to each other.

“We must remember that these images are based on the men in 1978, over 40 years ago, so they would have changed considerably in that time and are likely to be in their 60s now. I would like to hear from anyone who recognises these men andI would remind the public that I am seeking these men as witnesses to a horrific crime upon a young female.”

As part of the investigation Devon and Cornwall Police are also appealing to anyone who remembers people they know travelling from South Wales to Plymouth and staying in a hotel at the time of the offences:

  • Did your local sports club travel to the Plymouth area during January or February 1978?

  • Do you know of any local Welsh sports team who travelled to and stayed in Plymouth during this time?

  • Did you visit the Strathmore Hotel at that time?

Detective Supt Hall added: “These offences have had a significant impact upon the life of this woman and they remain with her to this day.

“Although this happened over 40 years ago, there is every likelihood that allegiances have changed during that time and now is the time to do the right thing. If you recognise either of these men or have any information about these offences or who could have committed them please contact us. I need the help of the public to trace the men responsible.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Devon and Cornwall Police by calling the incident room on 0800 096 1233 if calling from the UK or internationally on 0207 158 0197, quoting crime reference number CR/023620/15.