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Woman gang raped by up to seven ‘drunk and brutal’ rugby players in 1978 calls for justice

A woman who was gang raped by up to seven ‘drunk and brutal’ rugby players in 1978 when she was 17 has called for justice after police released pictures of two men who officers believe were friends with the rapists and could help them identify the attackers.

The victim was subjected to multiple rapes by the men at a hotel in Plymouth after they forced themselves on her.

Police said the attack had a significant impact on the victim’s life and have now launched an appeal, 42 years after the attack, to find two men they think could help identify the attackers.

The victim has urged the men to come forward after Devon and Cornwall Police released two e-fit images of two men that are thought to have been friends with the rapists.

Devon and Cornwall Police handout efit images of two men that detectives would like more information about in relation to a 1978

The victim said at the time, she felt the two men, who were not involved in the attack hadn’t wanted the attack to have occurred.

‘I feel that they could right that wrong by coming forward and telling the police who the people were that they were with on that day and therefore who the men were that raped me.

‘I am saying to them, 40 years ago your team-mates and your friends raped me, allegiances change over those years and therefore it would be the right thing to do to come forward now.

‘You may have had daughters, you may have granddaughters, you know what happened to me and you know that you hold the key to identifying those people who raped me.’

The victim had been out with a friend one Saturday in late January in 1978.

The offences took place on a Saturday in late January or early February in 1978 at the now closed Strathmore Hotel in Elliot Street in Plymouth

The offences took place on a Saturday in late January or early February in 1978 at the now closed Strathmore Hotel in Elliot Street in Plymouth 

The two had gone to an establishment which was known as the Safari Club and the Notte Inn, it was here that the victim met a man who was part of a larger group, the BBC reported.

He soon asked her to go to his hotel room. He spoke to his friend and the two then walked to the now closed Strathmore Hotel.

The victim said they had consensual sex and that he had then started to tell her about his life, disclosing that he worked as a maths teacher, but that he was also part of a south Wales rugby team.

She joked that she could have been his pupil, but said she was surprised when he didn’t find it funny.

There was a knock at the door and the man got up to answer it.

She added that some men then tried to force themselves in the room, but that the teacher had tried to stop them.

They were able to overpower him before lining up along a wall, wearing only towels.

Terrified, she said she tried to grab a phone, but was pinned down by one of the men and was unable to breath because of how ‘strong and heavy’ they were.

She said she knew she needed to be compliant and gave into them entirely,

‘They were drunk and brutal. I was raped in turn by about six or seven of the men while the other men cheered and encouraged them on’, she added.

She said the teacher and his friend stayed in the room but did not take part. After the ordeal they took her and her friend for a meal.

She reported it to police in 1993 but no suspects were found. She then reported in again in 2014 and a new investigation was launched. 

Detective Superintendent Jo Hall, who is leading the investigation, 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 sixties now.

‘I would like to hear from anyone who recognises these men and I 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, detectives are also appealing for the help of anyone who was working or staying at the hotel at the time.

Ms 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 in 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.’


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