Two victims – same terrible nightmare

TWO women, raped 14 years ago by sex fiend John Taylor – the murderer of Leeds teenager Leanne Tiernan – have spoken for the first time about their shared nightmare.

They once knew nothing of each other's existence, yet Taylor destroyed both their lives when he attacked them, five months apart in 1989.

This week the women spoke to each other for the first time, after hearing that Taylor, already serving two life sentences for kidnapping and murdering 16-year-old Leanne, had been given two further life sentences for raping them.

The first, Marie, not her real name, was a young mother at home with her child on March 1, 1989, when a masked Taylor entered her house and raped her.

The 35-year-old said she bottled up her emotions and did not seek any professional help for 10 years.

"I felt I could cope on my own. I didn't want to speak about it to a complete stranger who hadn't been there, and had no idea about how I was feeling. I thought that by not talking to anyone I could get over it a bit quicker – but I didn't."

Marie, the mother of two teenagers, now lives on the outskirts of Leeds with a new partner, following the break-up of her first marriage. She had been married only months when Taylor, masked in a terrifying hood and armed with a knife, walked into her house in Bramley.

She said: "The memories are always there, but when the police came to say they had arrested the rapist I was sick to the stomach, because of where he lived. He came from Bramley, where I lived at the time.

Marie said it was two years before she could use the word "rape." She said: "I would say I was 'attacked.' That was because his mannerisms were gentle, not brutal. What I mean is, that he didn't kick or physically hurt me, so I didn't see it as rape, even though he was armed with a knife. It was mental torture – not physical torture."

The hardest time was when her attacker was at large, and not knowing who he was. "Because he wore a mask and I couldn't see his face, I couldn't identify him. Even listening to television reports of other attacks on women made me wonder whether it could be the same man.

"I even went through a period of blaming myself for what happened. I would ask myself if I had done something, and this was God's way of punishing me for things I had done when I was young – even silly little things, like writing graffiti on a wall."

Marie believes her marriage break-up was caused by the rape, because her husband found it impossible to cope with what had happened to her.

She said she regretted not going to see Taylor sentenced at court. "I just wish I had gone to court to see him in the flesh, as a human being – if that is what you can call him. That would have been my way of coping, getting my own back, knowing that I had power over him, instead of him having power over me."

Two years after being raped, she received 14,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, but said she spent the money in six months on presents for people and trips away because it seemed like "dirty money" with its terrible reminders.

She did not seek professional counselling for 10 years, but then went to her GP. "It all flooded out, I was crying, and I don't think he knew what had hit him or how to deal with it," she said. "Moving away from the area did help. But even now, if I am alone in the house, I have to have all the doors locked. At night I have to have the curtains drawn. And I can't standing people looking at me, even in the street. If I see people, men, staring at me, I think they are staring at me sexually.For me, the nightmare will never go."

Anne, whose name has also been changed to protect her anonymity, is in her mid-forties and has also moved away from the area where she lived at the time of the attack.

Taylor grabbed her and raped her at knifepoint in Houghley Ghyll, Bramley – the same place where Leanne Tiernan was kidnapped years later.

Now a grandmother, she said her marriage broke up just weeks after she was raped. She suffered severe mood swings and was depressed.

Anne said she never says she has been raped. "It is easier to say I have been attacked, and I never went for counselling. I had three children, and I just had to get on with life. At least having the kids around was a help, a comfort, although they were too young to ever discuss it with.

"When I was told by the police that the man who attacked me was John Taylor, I was horrified. It was bad enough that he lived just a stone's throw away from where I lived at the time. But I have learned since that he used to go into the same shop as me, and even the same pub.

"Then, when he was in court for attacking me and the other lady, it all came flooding back, particularly when I saw the artist's impression of the man who attacked me."

"I saw Leanne Tiernan's mum on the television the other night, and I thought 'at least I am alive, her poor daughter is dead'."

After she was attacked she was afraid of leaving the house in case her attacker was watching her. "I still don't go out alone. When I go on the bus with my daughter, and any men sit behind me, I have to move. If a man is walking behind me, or a jogger comes up behind me, I get panicky, because Taylor grabbed me from behind."

Like Taylor's other victim, she believes her marriage broke down because her husband could not cope with what had happened to her.

She believes the terror of the rape will be with her for the rest of her life.

"After it happened, I had nightmares and I could see him in my sleep. He's still there, all the time," she said.

kate.o'hara@ypn.co.uk