"A nice place to raise a family"
To outsiders, Bermondsey, Southwark in the 1980s was just another urban inner city part of the capital. But to many who lived in the South London district, it was more like a suburban close-knit community. Neighbours knew each other, and people still respected their elders.
The regeneration of the area was starting. Rich residential gated communities were being planned and developed. But back then, a lot of people lived in council and social housing. For them there seemed little reason not to leave their doors and windows ajar in order to let their children and pets come and go.
It was this very sense of security that one man would exploit. He would stalk his victims to make sure his prey was weaker than him. He’d carefully carry out surveillance on their homes. And calmly plan his attacks for when they were alone.
He’d enter. And once inside, his evil would explode.
The police, the press and public would be powerless to stop his two decade reign of terror. Many would demonise the man who terrorised them as ‘The Praying Rapist’, ‘The Southwark Rapist’ and ‘The Beast of Bermondsey’.
In truth, the person behind these tags was actually a decidedly average, some would say physically unattractive, petty criminal. But when he combined his breaking and entering with his propensity for domestic violence, and targeted vulnerable individuals, he became a monster; a monster that seemed unstoppable.
That was, until science caught up with him.