UK rape victim slams Bajan police

(Barbados Nation) Rape victim and former British actress Hilary Heath has accused the Royal Barbados Police Force of failing to warn the public about the threat a serial rapist posed to the country back in 2004.

Heath told Britain’s Sunday Times that Barbadian police seemed more interested in protecting the country’s tourism reputation.

In the report, also carried yesterday in Britain’s Daily Mail, Heath said she and two other victims complained formally about the police investigation.

She said she had to beg for DNA swabs to be taken when she went to the hospital and that police officers failed to seize “vital evidence”.

She said the name of the attacker, Venslow Small, was also given to police by colleagues at Verdun House. Heath worked there as an intern.

She recounted that on the night in April she was roused from sleep by a masked man who jumped on her back, put a knife to her throat and covered her mouth with his hand.

He stole items from her safe and purse, and then raped her. She also suffered broken bones in her back and heel after a 20-foot jump from her room to escape her attacker.

Heath, who waived her right to anonymity, said she was raped 48 hours after her attacker had raped another British visitor. She suggested she would not have been raped if the police had investigated that attack. She said the police placed locals and tourists alike in jeopardy by refusing to issue proper warnings.

Small, of Wellington Street, The City, was arrested in the Heath matter and other offences.

He pleaded guilty to six rape charges and three counts of burglary and in December 2005 was sentenced to 30 years for raping Heath. He was given 25 years for each of the other rape charges and 15 years on each burglary conviction. The sentences were all concurrent.

Yesterday police public relations officer Inspector David Welch said the force was aware of Heath’s accusations but the High Commissioner in London Tony Arthur was making representation there on behalf of the Barbados Government, and the force did not want to pre-empt that official response.

Information consultant with the Ministry of Tourism, Hugh Foster, echoed the same comment.

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