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Detectives appeal for Hornchurch and Upminster victims of ‘early bird rapist’ to come forward

PUBLISHED: 17:40 06 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:40 06 September 2018

L-R: Christopher Clark, known as the 'early bird rapist' and an image in Clark from 1996. Picture: Essex Police

L-R: Christopher Clark, known as the 'early bird rapist' and an image in Clark from 1996. Picture: Essex Police

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A new image has been released of a man who was jailed for rape and burglary in Hornchurch and Upminster 32 years ago as detectives urge for victims to come forward.

Christopher Clark, 68, was jailed for 13 years with a five-year extended licence after pleading guilty to raping a teenager in Thurrock on Monday, September 3 at Basildon Crown Court.

The serial rapist was already serving life for another serious sexual offence when he was sentenced.

Essex Police released an image of Clark as he looked in 1996, in case other women believe they may also have been a victim of this man.

Clark moved to Canvey Island in 1983 and is believed to have lived there until mid to late 1984.

In 1986 he was arrested and charged with 13 offences including rape and burglary with intent to rape.

The offences happened in Hornchurch, Upminster, South Benfleet, Grays, Great Baddow and South Woodham Ferrers.

Press dubbed Clark the “early bird rapist” because during the offences he would watch the homes of his victims, waiting for their husbands to leave before in some cases threatening them with knives, sexually touching them and in two cases raping them.

During the incidents in Hornchurch and Upminster, Clark raped the women in their own home.

He was convicted in relation to five of those offences, with the court ordering eight to lie on file, and he was jailed for ten years.

Clark was released from prison in 1996 and it is thought he may have regularly travelled to Essex and other areas in the South East, before he was again locked up in 1997 in connection with another sexual offence in Bath.

The Essex Police Cold Case Investigation Team has worked alongside colleagues from the Avon and Somerset Major Crime Review Team who have carried out an extensive review into Clark’s offending history.

Senior investigating officer DCI Stephen Jennings of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “We know that Clark is a serial offender and has been committing sexual offences that we know of, as early as 1966.

“Clark lived in Essex, and Canvey, specifically, for at least two years prior to committing the rape in Thurrock. Given his offending history it seems unlikely that he did not or would not have committed offences during that period.

“Furthermore during 1996, having been released from prison for a brief period, we know he continued to visit Essex and other areas in the South East.

“Clark has, throughout his life so far, perpetrated numerous sexual offences ranging from indecent exposure and indecent assault to violent rapes at knifepoint.

“If you recognise Clark from the images shown and have been a victim of a sexual offence perpetrated by him but have not yet come forward to police, please do.

“It’s absolutely imperative that we continue to ensure that his victims – as with any victim of a crime – receive not only the justice that deserve but the appropriate support too.”

If you believe you have been a victim of Christopher Clark contact Essex Police on 101 and ask to be put through to extensions 42003297, or 42002874 or 42074423.

Residents can also email SCDMajorCrimeColdCaseTeam@essex.pnn.police.uk

The Essex Partnership or Rape Crisis Centres (Synergy Essex) offers a range of specialist support and information to victims and survivors who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any time in their lives.

For more information call 0300 003 7777 or visit www.synergyessex.org.uk.

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