December 12 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Julie Cooper is perhaps somewhat fortunate in the sense that she can remember nothing of the moment she was savagely set upon by a knifeman who attacked her before stealing her handbag as she walked to work in broad daylight.
It was an attack so brutal that the then 28-year-old suffered serious facial bone breaks, including her upper and lower jaws, her right cheek was cut to the bone and she had several teeth knocked out.
That she survived was largely down to the expertise of medical staff who carried out a nine-hour operation following the attack, which happened some time between 1.05pm and 1.15pm on Europa Way – a footpath and cycleway opposite County Hall, on Martineau Lane, where Norfolk police’s headquarters were then also based.
That was 13 years ago today and police have used the anniversary to launch a fresh appeal to try to catch the person responsible for the attack together with Archant Norfolk – publishers of the EDP and its sister paper the Norwich Evening News – as part of our Norfolk Unsolved campaign which aims to help crack some of the county’s most serious unsolved cases.
Mrs Cooper has returned to the scene as part of the appeal and has spoken out to help try to get people who know something about the attack on August 15, 2000, to come forward.
The mother-of-two, now 41, worked on the Europa Way industrial estate as an assistant accountant at CS Lampertz and was returning to work, having been home for lunch, when her life was turned upside down.
She said: “It was a glorious day. I had been home and had some of my youngest daughter’s birthday cake – it was her third birthday the day before the attack – and was walking back.
“I was in a bit of a hurry as I was a couple of minutes late. I came on to the footpath and was attacked.
“The next thing, I was waking up in hospital with knife wounds to my face, shoulder and arms and had undergone a nine hour operation to rebuild my face – they had to rebuild my face from top to bottom and put dental implants in.”
Mrs Cooper, who underwent the last of several operations about six years ago, said she has tried not to think about what happened to her, but still had terrible memories of the effect her injuries had on her family.
She said: “I try to block it out as much as possible.
“One of my worst memories afterwards was of my husband bringing my three-year-old and my other daughter to visit me in hospital. When she saw me in hospital she wouldn’t come near me – I wasn’t her mummy...
“I hadn’t seen my face at that stage. They had covered the mirrors up. One day I got up to go to the toilet and saw a mirror for the first time and nearly collapsed in shock at what had been done – I’m not surprised my daughter didn’t want to see me.
“My dad, too, when he came into hospital nearly collapsed at the sight of me. My face was literally smashed in. ”
Mrs Cooper and her family used to live less than a mile from where the attack happened but despite receiving amazing support from the local community following the ordeal have since moved and now live a few miles outside the city.
She said: “We would go away on holiday and come back and as soon as we got onto the A11 the dread was back. We were so close to it.”
Mrs Cooper, who is now a finance director at a Norfolk academy, said she was scared when she went out – even to the supermarket – that her attacker might be lurking nearby and was unable to deal with crowds.
But she has since tried to confront her fears. She has been to see the Foo Fighters at Milton Keynes Bowl and has returned to the scene many times as part of the process which has seen her refuse to be a victim any longer.
Mrs Cooper said: “I made the decision I wasn’t going to sit at home and be scared. I don’t want my daughters to see that.”
She added: “For many years Victim Support would phone me up and say ‘there’s a knife amnesty on, will you talk about it?’.
“There came a point about three or four years ago when I said ‘enough is enough. I need to go on in my life’.
“It’s made my life very surreal by going on GMTV to talk to Eamonn Holmes and turning down Richard and Judy. I’ve always said its not the way to get your 15 minutes of fame.”
Mrs Cooper has given her backing to the new appeal and has urged anyone with any information about the attack to come forward.
She said: “I’ve always said there is that fear he might do this to someone else and my hope is by doing this appeal again after 13 years I guess someone out there who has information, or who suspects something, will come forward to stop it happening to someone else.”
The attack, which took place on a very hot sunny day, was extremely unusual due to the level of violence used to carry out what officers believe was a robbery. There were no other similar offences leading up to the incident and nothing like that has occurred since.
The area is a very busy traffic route in and out of Norwich.
The path where the assault took place leads from the petrol station to the roundabout at Bracondale and, despite its busy location, it was heavily overgrown at that time and would not have been easily seen by people driving by.
Despite a major police investigation, several reviews of the case, a number of inquiries conducted with other forces looking at people who have committed similar horrific offences – and even a reconstruction on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme, the suspect has never been identified.
Det Insp Andy Guy, who leads Norfolk’s cold case team, renewed the appeal. He said: “Over a decade has now passed since Julie was attacked and people who may not have been prepared to come forward and talk to us at the time, may now feel this is the time to do so.
“I’m sure knowing who was responsible and living with that knowledge would play heavily on anyone’s conscience.
“I would like to hear from anyone who could give us information that would lead to us establishing the reasons for this incredibly savage attack and giving Julie closure to this part of her life.”
He is particularly interested in hearing from anyone who saw a ginger-haired man with heavily tattooed arms who was acting “oddly” before and at about the time of the attack.
Information to police on 101.
Comment – page 30