Brave Rape Victim's Quest- Mail On Sunday Newspaper- Exclusive News Feature- ***July 2012***

Josie Ottoway contacted us because she believed the story of how she was raped as a student in Loughborough and the subsequent police investigation, may encourage other women to come forward and report sex crimes.

The 21-year old student had been brutally raped at gunpoint as she walked home to her student lodgings.

She was not satisfied with the 'lenient' seven-year sentence handed out to her attacker and her case was eventually referred to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, and the prison term increased to ten years.

We were able to place Josie's story with the Mail On Sunday newspaper and the sensitively handled piece appeared in the newspaper on Sunday.  

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Intelligent and with a self-confidence instilled by her comfortable middle-class upbringing, Josie Ottoway does not come across as an obvious victim.

A statuesque 5ft 11in, she's sporty and physically strong thanks to her passion for canoeing.

But on the night she was attacked and raped a short distance from her student dormitory, she stood little chance against her assailant despite the fact that he was shorter and of slight built.

For Adam Willis held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her.

'I would have put up more of a struggle if he had been unarmed,' says Josie, a 21-year-old international business undergraduate at Loughborough University in Leicestershire.

Willis was eventually apprehended and was sentenced to seven years in prison. Because of the aggravated nature of the assault, Josie was stunned by the leniency of his punishment. 'I would have liked it to have been life but realistically I wanted something to reflect how devastating it was to me,' she says.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve agreed. He said the judge should have been tougher and referred the case to the Appeal Court, which increased Willis's term to ten years.

That the initial sentence was deemed 'unduly lenient' is a fact that would be taken into consideration by judges in similar cases in the future.

Despite her initial reluctance to report the incident, Josie now regards it as the 'best decision' she has ever made and would like courts to regard this as a guideline for future. 'I hope that because the Attorney General's intervention led to such a significant increase, judges will now impose much tougher sentences on rapists.'

Josie has waived her right to anonymity because she wants to help break down the stigma associated with rape and encourage more women to report attacks. She believes that if people were prepared to talk openly about the subject, it would become less of a taboo.

Sitting at her family home in a wealthy suburb of Rugby both her parents hold senior positions at Land Rover's headquarters in the town Josie recounts the horrors of the attack. 'I didn't want to go through my life feeling like a victim,' she says. 'We're expected to hide away as if we're in some way responsible.

'I don't think about it very much any more. I'm determined not to let it damage me permanently. I'm not worried about going back to university or being out on my own but that's because I've made a conscious effort to take control of my life.

'Initially I lost all my confidence and didn't go out for weeks. Even when I started to venture out, I didn't want to go anywhere on my own I had to be around people. Once I was left in a club after going to the bathroom and my friends thought I had gone home. I was crying hysterically over the phone and they had to come and get me.

'If I was in the street and a strange man walked too close, I'd start shaking. My studies were also affected because for a while I stopped going to classes and I wasn't able to concentrate.

'Only a few friends knew what had happened the rest thought I was being weird. I wish I had had the courage to be open because I think it would have made things easier. 

'Unfortunately, women and girls who have been raped rarely want to talk about their ordeal. They either don't tell anyone or they wish to remain anonymous, which is fundamental to the way people view it as something we should feel ashamed about. I want to change that.

'If I had been mugged then it would be OK to talk openly about what happened, but when it's rape there is this sense of almost sweeping it under the carpet. I was 99 per cent sure my attacker would not be caught and yet he was. If doing this interview makes it easier for just one person to go to the police, then I will feel it was worth it. This is also my way of showing my attacker that he's not beaten me.'

It has taken her a year to achieve this level of openness. Josie was 19 and enjoying a carefree life in the second year of her degree course when Willis, then 18, struck one night in February 2011 as she was taking a short walk from a friend's house to her lodgings on campus.

She had made the ten-minute journey across a football field on numerous occasions and felt safe as she listened to her iPod. But, further on, in a dimly lit alleyway at about 10.30pm, she was snatched by a hooded Willis. Holding a gun to her head, he forced her to strip naked in the freezing cold before he raped her.

Rapist: Adam Willis will now serve 10 years behind bars after his victim fought for a harsher sentence

Josie attends Loughborough University (pictured) and was walking back to her student accommodation when she was attacked

Rapist: Adam Willis is now behind bars after attacking the student who reads international business at Loughborough University.

'He grabbed me from behind and clasped his hand over my mouth,' Josie recalls. 'I felt the tip of a gun pressed against my temple as he dragged me across a footpath. I thought I was being abducted and tried to give him my bag but he told me to be quiet and kept pulling me into the field. I was terrified because I knew he had a gun.

'He pushed me to the ground, pointed it at me and said, "Take off your clothes or I'll kill you." I was on my knees but I couldn't see him properly because his hood was pulled low over his face. I was crying and begging him to let me go but he stood behind me and told me to strip.

'His voice was cold and calm. I really believed that he would kill me so I did as he said.

'I was wearing a lot of layers because of the weather, so I took my time in the hope that someone might come along.'

But the cold weather meant few people had ventured out. 'I kept telling myself to just get through it. I didn't think of anything except surviving. I didn't want to die,' Josie continues. 'I'm a strong person and know how to defend myself but it didn't cross my mind that I could fight back. Once someone points a gun in your face you just do as they say.'

Willis made Josie lay on the ground before subjecting her to a terrifying sexual assault. When she tried to struggle with him he pressed the tip of the gun between her eyes so hard it grazed her skin.

Josie, who has used her grandmother's surname for this interview, was so scared that when he asked for her name, she told him. 'He said he knew where I lived and now that he had my name he'd come and kill me if I told anyone what had happened.'

After Willis had walked calmly away, Josie got dressed and ran to her halls of residence.

Traumatised, she logged on to Facebook to contact friends but none of them was online. Eventually she called her best friend in Sheffield, who advised her to call 999.

However, Josie was terrified because of Willis's threat to track her down. Some hours later, after she was safely in the home of a local friend, she was persuaded to call the police. Even then she only wanted them to issue a warning to women in the area.

'I wanted to forget it ever happened but they said the best way to keep other women safe was for them to catch him,' she reveals. 'I agreed to make a formal statement but I didn't think they would find him because the only description I could give was that he had pale blue eyes.'

Josie had also washed away vital DNA evidence by taking a shower and brushing her teeth.

A few days later, police made a breakthrough when semen was found on Josie's dress. Detectives set about collecting DNA from local men who had been identified from CCTV images taken in the area on the night of the attack. This rapidly narrowed down the search for suspects. Police also targeted the student population with leaflets and an appeal using CCTV footage.

After a grainy image of Willis appeared on local television, members of his family suggested that he go to police and clear his name. Josie says: 'Apparently he walked into his local police station and said he might have been involved but couldn't remember. As he later pleaded guilty, I didn't have to face him at a trial.

'That was a double-edged sword because it meant that I didn't get my day in court. I was furious when I realised that he would be walking the streets after just three years. I felt that the judge had put more weight on the psychiatric reports than on my statement, which he read during his lunch break.'

Josie was never allowed to see the psychiatric report on Willis, which she believes might have helped her to understand the sentence he was handed last October. 'It seems like his human rights were given precedence over mine,' she says.

The weapon wielded by Willis was never found and he told police it was a 'toy', but this was the aggravated aspect that led to his sentence being increased by the Court of Appeal in January.

Josie believes that Willis, who was described in court as a man of previous good character, had planned the attack and had carried out others.

'Apparently he had told his pregnant girlfriend that he would be home late from work at a local gym and had the gun tucked in his rucksack,' she says.

'It was clearly premeditated and I also believe it was not the first time. He was too calm and controlled. He knew exactly what he was doing and I think there are probably other students out there who were too frightened to come forward. I hope they will follow my example and do so now. It will make them feel

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