BY TOBY PORTER
The victim of a sex assault 35 years ago has waived her right to anonymity because she is so angry at the sentence her attacker received – and police have gone on the record saying they will help her think about appealing the sentence.
Karen Reddin, who was living in Hollydale Road, Nunhead at the time, was just 17 when Keith Walker assaulted her at their office – and then told her to clean up.
After three days of deliberating, the jury delivered a hung verdict on the charge of rape, but found Walker, of Princes Street, Spalding, Lincolnshire, guilty of indecent assault.
This was the second time a court had heard this case following another hung jury verdict six months before.
But Karen, now 52, is fuming Walker, 70, was sentenced to 240 hours of unpaid work and £5,000 costs on January 8, 2019 after a five-day trial at Inner London Crown Court in October.
Karen said: “The highest sentence he could have got in 1983 was two years but he did not even get a month in prison.
I feel let down by the system. Even some police were in shock. “It was a joke. It felt like a slap in the face.
“I felt hopeful he would go to prison but deep down I knew almost nothing would come of it – that he would walk away. So I was not really surprised in the end.
“I don’t care if I go on TV to talk about it. I want to stand up and say this is what happened to me and encourage other victims to come forward too.
“It has been hard. But I wanted to get his name out there. He was so cocky at the time. He used to call me in his office and ask questions about my boyfriend and had I had sex. “It made me uncomfortable but I thought this was a way of trying to get to know staff.
I was 17 and it was my first job. “He tried to get me in the back of his car. Then another time he got me to touch him while he held my hand. Then he said ‘Can you get that cleared up’.
“Either the same day or the day after, he told me to clean his office and I said it had been done yesterday. He said ‘Don’t question me’ I went in but locked the door. He started banging on it and I felt I had no option but to open it.”
It was then she claimed to have been raped. “I could remember everything but how I got on the floor,” she said. “I do not know why the jury did not believe me. Maybe because they were not 100 per cent.”
The court heard how Walker first met the victim at their workplace in Queen Victoria Street, in the City, where he was a senior member of staff. While working together, Walker asked her many inappropriate sexual questions before one day instructing her to go and clean his office. It was then he followed her into the room and sexually assaulted her.
The victim visited a social security office near her home to inform them she had left her post due to being sexually harassed by her boss. They contacted Walker who offered to pay her five weeks’ salary on the basis she would return to work following the “misunderstanding”.
The victim refused the money and did not return. The offence was reported to the City of London police in October 2016 and officers arrested Walker at his home address on October 18, 2016.
Karen said: “My daughter had reached 17 and moved to London and I struggled with that. I was back in therapy – I have had counselling for years – and had reached 50.
“I thought I do not want to take this to my grave, wishing I had reported it. In the end it was easy to talk about because I know the truth.
“After 1983, I got mixed up in drink and drugs – I didn’t care about anything or about myself. I had no feeling. I always felt it was my fault because I let it happen. There was a lot of anger, panic attacks and flashbacks.
“In the end the whole family moved down to Devon and Plymouth after my sister’s house in nearby Ivydale Road, Nunhead, was burned down in an arson attack.”
Karen said in her victim statement at the second trial: “During the assault, when I was 17, I was in shock and I froze. “After, I just wanted to forget it ever happened. I felt shame, disgust, embarrassment. I felt dirty, frightened and alone.
“It changed my life and it changed me as a person. I hated feeling all of those feelings so I turned to drink and drugs for about six years. “I could not hold any relationships together. I could not hold down a job for longer than a year.
I was always in and out of relationships. I had trust and respect issues. “It has affected my whole life for 30-odd years, emotionally, financially and psychologically. “I lost all of my self-respect and respect for others. I felt violated and I felt disgusting.
I thought bleach would somehow make me feel clean again. “After I had my daughter, I started talking about what had happened. I have had so much counselling. “It feels like everything is a trigger and I had flashbacks and panic attacks.
“Since reporting it I have still had flashbacks but at last I felt like a survivor. “I have felt all of those feelings over and over. I can even remember the pain and I feel like a victim all over again.
Also, since understanding post-traumatic stress disorder, I have had this since the day it happened. “I felt the court/law/justice system was mostly on the side of the perpetrator, which adds to me thinking ‘What was the point’?”
Detective Constable Deborah O’Loughlin-Whitby, the lead officer on the case, said: “The City of London Police would like to commend the victim’s bravery for reporting this crime from 35 years ago.
Our investigation and the subsequent conviction shows that these cases can be looked into and taken to court even if they are not recent.
“We are dedicated to protecting victims and all information from victims will be treated with confidence.
Full support is available from the Public Protection Unit at the City of London Police for those who have experienced crimes of this nature, no matter how long ago.”
Detective Inspector Anna Rice, head of the City of London Police Public Protection Unit, said: “A guilty verdict in this case is a positive result for the victim, however we will be working with the CPS and the victim to consider opportunities to appeal the sentence.
“I would like to praise the tenacity and dedication of DC O’Loughlin-Whitby which was integral in getting the case this far and the support she has provided to the victim.
“We are proud to deliver an exceptional policing service and we continue to encourage those that have been a victim of sexual crime to come forward and report