Rotherham abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse speaks out after town linked to New Zealand terror attack

A survivor of the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal has spoken out after the town was linked to terror attacks in New Zealand, condemning the killing as an "evil act".

Sammy Woodhouse
Sammy Woodhouse

A gunman involved in the attack which has killed at least 49 people at two New Zealand mosques had ‘for Rotherham’ written on the ammunition clips he used, it has emerged.

Now abuse survivor and campaigner Sammy Woodhouse has spoken out against his actions.

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‏"My thoughts go out to all the victims killed today in New Zealand," she said. "Such an evil act.

Forty-nine people have been killed and at least 20 wounded in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. A gunman identifying himself as an Australian live-streamed the rampage at Al Noor mosque. He also posted images of the weapons to Twitter before the feed was taken down.

"As a Rotherham survivor, I would like to add a message from me and my family. This was not done in our name."

Brenton Tarrant, aged 28, from Australia, has been named in media reports in his home country of Australia as the gunman who live-streamed the attack in Christchurch on Facebook as he shot victims in mosques.

In a 74-page manifesto, believed to have been written by Tarrant, he describes himself as an ‘ordinary white man’ who ‘decided to take a stand’.

He describes anti-immigrant motives, saying the victims were a ‘large group of invaders’ who he says ‘seek to occupy my peoples lands and ethnically replace my own people (sic)’.

It also cites the rape of British women by ‘European women invaders’ and includes links to the Rotherham sex abuse scandal.

Rotherham hit the headlines when an independent report into child sexual exploitation in the town published in 2014 found that 1,400 children were groomed and abused by men of predominantly Pakistan heritage while those in authority failed to act.

A picture of an ammunition clip he posted on Twitter beforehand featured the words ‘for Rotherham’. The message could also be seen in Facebook footage of the terror attack, which was broadcast live.

South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has also spoken out.

“The attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, was an act of gross cowardice and an assault on all religions," he said.

“It shows clearly why we have to learn to live with differences, especially in a world that is becoming ever more plural.

“Hate crimes, however small, need to be dealt with, not least because where hatreds breed, violent acts of this kind can be contemplated by a few malcontents.

“In South Yorkshire, whatever community we come from, we will all stand together to stop our communities being places of fear or division."

Posting on Twitter, Rotherham Council leader, Councillor Chris Reade, said: “Awful news from Christchurch this morning. Our thoughts are with all those affected, and of course first and foremost with the Muslim community.

“All decent people will be revolted by the sickening ideology of those who seek to divide us.”

He added: “That the perpetrator of this violence apparently sought in some twisted way to use our town's history to justify his actions makes this personal to us.

He added: “That the perpetrator of this violence apparently sought in some twisted way to use our town's history to justify his actions makes this personal to us.

“Rotherham has already seen far too much violence. Our community will continue to stand united for decency and the rule of law.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the shootings as ‘one of New Zealand's darkest days’.

She added: "What has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence. "It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack."