Norfolk

Internet date rape victim from Norfolk speaks out

A 48-year-old rape victim from Norfolk has spoken out about the dangers of internet dating.

She thought she had covered every safety angle but the rapist pretended to be someone else and lured her into a car before raping her at gunpoint.

Taxi driver, Philip Hopkins, 57, was given an indeterminate sentence at Peterborough Crown Court two weeks ago.

His victim wants to warn other women of the dangers of internet dating.

Speaking about the start of her experience on a social networking site she said: "It all started as a bit of a giggle.

"His profile was quite normal. He'd written he was a widower, the father of two children both at university and nothing in it rang any bells."

'Anybody can be tricked'

Hopkins, of Broom Close, Glinton, near Peterborough, had used a false identity and photo on the internet - posing as a wealthy businessman.

Just before the first and only date, he sent a text message to the woman saying he would have to send his personal driver to pick her up from her home in King's Lynn because he had to attend a meeting first.

However, the driver was actually Hopkins.

Sue Lambert, the chair of the Sexual Violence Alliance (SEVA) in Norwich said this was typical of sexual predators who use the internet to groom their victims.

Ms Lambert said: "There are websites for teenagers warning them of the dangers of the internet but adults often think they are invulnerable.

"What's worrying is as you grow older you think you're safe but many of those doing the grooming are very clever at manipulating and abusing your trust.

"Anyone can be tricked."

She advised women to never meet a man alone and to be wary the first two or three times they met up with someone they did not know.

When Hopkins - posing as the chauffeur - picked her up he had placed 12 roses on the back seat, two bottles of wine and a letter in which he apologised and said she was in safe hands with his driver.

But she was then threatened with a gun, gagged with tape across her mouth, handcuffed and assaulted.

His victim said: "There were two or three times when I thought I would never see the kids again."

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