Courageous Rising Sun Country Park rape victim pens open letter five months after attack

The victim thanked police for preparing strong evidence that forced Rothwell into a guilty plea

The brave victim of the horrendous sexual assault that took place in Rising Sun Country Park earlier this year and disgusted the region has penned a heartfelt letter to Northumbria Police.

In it the victim, who was 63 years old at the time of the attack on March 28, 2022, thanked police for gathering such strong evidence that Rothwell was forced into a guilty plea which spared her from the pain of a drawn-out trial.

34-year-old Alan Rothwell, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to kidnap, attempted rape, two counts of sexual assault and robbery at Newcastle Crown Court in July - subsequently receiving an extended sentence of 14 years and nine months, with a judge stating he must serve at least eight years behind bars.

In the letter to Northumbria Police, which the victim has agreed to be shared, she writes: “As the victim in the Rising Sun attack, I would like to express my huge gratitude to all the members of Northumbria Police who came to my assistance that day.

Alan Rothwell

“The response to my 999 call immediately after the attack was swift and reassuring. Unfortunately, I cannot remember all the names of the officers who I came into contact with but they were all professional and kind.

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“Due to all the hard work and prompt action of the police, I was amazed and relieved when they were able to arrest the attacker within three days of this awful incident. I was particularly thankful he was off the streets and unable to harm anyone else. Also, the fact he was caught and charged so quickly was a great relief.

“When he pleaded guilty to the offences I was once again grateful that the evidence was so strong I wouldn’t have to face court at a much later date.

“Finally, to have the sentence passed on July 7 and know this person will be in prison for at least eight years was a massive relief for me and my family. And all this happened within 15 weeks which was amazing.

Rising Sun Country Park (Image: Google Streetview)

“Throughout this ordeal, I have had wonderful support from Northumbria Police and will always be very thankful for their dedication and professionalism.

“I was clearly very unlucky on that day to come across this person who was determined to attack someone, but I think my recovery will be greatly aided by the swift outcome.”

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Detective Chief Inspector Shelley Hudson, of Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding Department, said she hopes the words shared by the victim in this case will encourage other victims of sexual offences, who may not yet have come forward, confidence to do so knowing that they will be heard and supported.

She said: “The bravery the victim showed throughout the investigation and court proceedings – and continues to display to this day – has been remarkable.

DCI Shelley Hudson

“Thanks to her courage, and the unwavering professionalism of the officers those involved in the investigation we were able to identify the offender quickly and put them before the court.

“Incidents of this nature are thankfully rare in our Force area, however when such offences do occur we are here to support victims and are committed to bringing those responsible to justice.

“I would urge anyone who has been the victim of any form of sexual offence to come forward – we are here for you, we will listen and we will support you.”

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To disclose any form of sexual abuse, visit the Northumbria Police website’s ‘Tell us Something’ page, call 101 or 999 in an emergency.

For support on disclosing historic abuse, visit: Rape Crisis England & Wales