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Woman Raped As A Schoolgirl Brought Into Court In Handcuffs To See Her Attacker Oliver Bernard Years After 'Life Changing' Event

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A woman who was raped when she was a schoolgirl was brought to court in handcuffs today to see her attacker sentenced to jail. | Alamy

A woman who was raped when she was a schoolgirl was brought to court in handcuffs on Friday to see her attacker sentenced to jail.

She was 14 when a stranger dragged her off the street where she lived in south London, threatened her with a knife and raped her in the 1990s.

The attack had a "life changing" effect on her. She went from the top of her form to drug abuse and is now serving a prison sentence.

She sat at the back of the courtroom at the Old Bailey after the handcuffs were removed and watched the rapist jailed.

Judge Stephen Kramer said he hoped the sentencing would bring her some closure.

The court heard Oliver Bernard, 47, was arrested last year after a cold case review matched his DNA to the attacker.

He pleaded guilty to rape and was jailed for eight years. His barrister said he could not remember the incident as he was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2000.

Bernard, of Swanley, Kent, had spent a life of petty crime and public order offences and was between prison spells when he approached the girl.

Karen Holt, prosecuting, said she had been to a wake for her friend's father when she got off a bus at around 11pm on a snowy January night.

He followed her and dragged her into an alley by garages and put a Stanley knife to her throat.

The girl's ordeal ended only when she was able to wind her watch forward and trick the attacker into thinking police would be called because she was late.

Miss Holt said that in a victim statement, the victim said she was brought up in a supportive family where her siblings had been successful.

She added: "Up until this incident, she was doing well and was top of the class.

"After this happened, everything went wrong. Her life spiralled out of control. This was a life changing event."

Judge Kramer told Bernard: "She was terrified. She tried to stop you raping her but you forced yourself on her.

"What she endured was painful violation. She says what you did to her was life changing for her."