‘He seemed so harmless and sweet, he was so believable’

Jailed: David Walsh, who was convicted of raping two women

Jailed: David Walsh, who was convicted of raping two women

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“I don’t hate him – I genuinely believe that there is something wrong with him. I am glad that he has been put somewhere he can’t do this anymore.”

Those are the determined words of a woman who was attacked by David Walsh, a man she believed was her friend.

Rape is a crisis

Rape is a crisis

With Walsh now behind bars for two rapes in Blackpool and Preston, the 35-year-old victim has bravely spoken out, though she cannot be named for legal reasons.

Three years ago, when she met Walsh, life was very different.

At first she believed him to be a charming friend. But she says alarm bells started to ring when she found out he had been lying that his mum had cancer.

The brutal attack happened hours later.

Alarm bells should have started to ring – but he seemed so harmless and sweet and he was so believable

She lived with the impact of the assault for two years until reading he was on trial, for raping a 20-year-old girl in Blackpool in January 2014.

She then bravely came forward to support the other woman.

Walsh, 33, of Railton Avenue, Blackburn, was jailed in November after he was found guilty of two counts of rape following his trial in August.

He had originally stood trial for raping a young woman in Blackpool earlier this year, but the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

His second victim revealed she came forward to report that she had been raped by Walsh in 2012, and a retrial took place, leading to guilty verdicts for both attacks.

Walsh was ordered to serve a minimum term of 11 years and will only be eligible for release if the parole board deems him to have shown remorse for his crimes.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offender’s Register for life.

Today his victim, who is determined to move on with her life with her fiance, says: “I started to feel sorry for him. He would tell me stories of friends that had worked him over and fallen out with him and ripped him off, his upbringing – he said his mum went out drinking all the time and meeting men. She didn’t love him or look after him and would disappear for days on binges when he was a kid.

“He even told me he once went living in the woods and people would bring him food as he didn’t want to go home.

“He also told me he was having grief from a girl he had been chatting with and because he had decided not to see her again afterwards she had become angry and had told people he had raped her.

“Alarm bells should have started to ring – but he seemed so harmless and sweet and he was so believable.”

The woman was attacked in her own bed in Preston in 2012.

She recalls: “It was like a switch flicked in his head and he looked enraged. He had started to fight me, pinning me down and grabbing my arms and legs.

“I was struggling to get away and breathe – he was really hurting me, wherever I struggled free, he grabbed hold of to restrain me.

“I remember thinking I was going to die – he was suffocating me, the pain went numb and I felt like my thoughts were outside my own body.

“I was petrified and thought of my family. I thought that he was going to have to kill me as he was doing this to me; surely he wouldn’t leave it at that.

“I instantly knew he had raped the other girl he had been complaining about in the previous weeks.”

She was left covered head to toe in bruising and sores from the attack and confided in her friends before being persuaded by her boss, nine days later, to go to Preston’s SAFE Centre.

She explains: “I didn’t go to the police straight away – partly because I was shocked for weeks afterwards, I tried to come to terms with the fact he had done this to me but instead just pretended it hadn’t happened. All my friends urged me to go to police but I didn’t want to talk about it or go through that process, I was still in shock. After nine days they still counted and recorded 19 bruises on my body.”

She was too fearful of repercussions to press charges but earlier this year, she heard Walsh had been on remand for raping another woman and she was being put through a retrial.

She recalls: “It broke my heart so I went to the police and told them what happened and that I was finally ready to go ahead with my complaint. I knew in my heart he had done this to her and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t support her. They grouped the cases together and he was found guilty of both cases unanimously and sentenced.

“He showed no remorse at all during the trial and the judge commented on the fact he was a compulsive liar – his outrageous lies were repeatedly uncovered during the trial. Luckily the jury and judge saw through them.

“I don’t know why he did it and I don’t try to work it out anymore. Some things cannot be explained and I prefer to focus on having a positive happy life.

“I have struggled over the years and been really up and down especially over the last six months as it has all come back to me. But I’m happy overall with amazing fiancé, family, friends and rewarding career.

“It’s not a nice process to have gone through but I feel I have some peace in my soul and it was the right thing to do. I am so thankful for my amazing friends and family who supported me immediately after the attack and my fiancé in the years afterwards.

“Rape is one of the hardest crimes to prove and I would urge anyone who is unfortunate enough to have experienced this to preserve any evidence as soon as they can by going to the SAFE centre at their hospital. I understand they may not feel ready to report to the police immediately but at least preserve the evidence.

“I also feel that the level of support offered to rape victims isn’t enough – I struggled to get counselling before, during and after the case and would like to see support offered much more readily to victims via counselling and therapy during the court trials.”

• The Safe Centre can be contacted on 01772 523344.