British rape victim criticizes Barbados police

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday April 4, 2011 – Former British actress Hilary Heath, who was the victim of a rape in Barbados back in 2004, has accused police there of not issuing any alerts about a serial rapist in the country.

Heath, who also claimed the police seemed more interested in protecting Barbados’ tourism reputation, said she and two of the 16 other women who were attacked by the rapist – who has since been convicted and is serving concurrent prison terms for the crimes – have filed formal complaints about the police investigation.

Her allegations were published yesterday in an article in the Sunday Times and also carried in The Daily Mail.

The 65-year-old Heath, who has appeared in several films, including Wuthering Heights, as well as television series like The Avengers, had moved to Barbados after giving up acting. She had trained as a counselor for drug addicts and was doing an internship at Verdun House, a drug-addiction treatment facility.

The former actress recalled that she was raped in April 2004 by a man identified as Venslow Small. Heath said she was awoken by the masked man who jumped on her back, put a knife to her throat and raped her after taking money from her safe and purse. She also broke bones in her back and heel when she jumped 20 feet from her room onto a concrete path because she feared her attacker was going to kill her.

Heath said after the ordeal police did not take her case seriously.

She claimed she had to beg for DNA swabs to be taken when she went to hospital; officers failed to seize vital evidence such as her bed sheets and items handled by the rapist for forensic clues; and there was not further action taken even after the name of her attacker was given to police by her colleagues at Verdun House.

Heath said she had a meeting with senior lawmen but got no better response.

“They appeared to be more concerned with the image of the police force and bad press than about issuing adequate warnings,” she told the newspaper.

Heath said she decided to speak out after reading about the case of a 61-year-old widow who was raped about 48 hours before her.

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