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I saved crying half-naked woman from railway rapists; By MP Helen Brinton.

BRAVE Labour MP Helen Brinton helped rescue a screaming, half- naked woman who was being sexually attacked by two men on a late night train.

Helen, who has been the victim of a rail mugging herself, dashed to the guard to raise the alarm as the woman collapsed outside her carriage.

Now 43-year-old Helen - one of Tony Blair's 101 women MPs - wants security stepped up on commuter trains.

She was travelling with fellow Labour MP Derek Wyatt on the 11.05pm Victoria to Ramsgate service when the woman was attacked.

Helen said: "We were in a first-class compartment and heard a disturbance and a very high-pitched noise of distress from a woman and people trying to get into a locked toilet.

"The next thing we knew she was on the floor outside our compartment.

"She had been running from two men who were chasing her and was screaming for help.

"When we intervened the men left her. She was sobbing and naked from the waist up. I put my arm round her to comfort her.

"She was in her late 30s or early 40s and very distressed.

"She said the men had not only tried to rape her, but they had stolen her handbag."

The former girls' school teacher added: "I use this service four nights a week and I am frightened of travelling alone.

"It was terrifying and I was glad Derek was with me. Otherwise, I don't quite know how I would have handled the situation."

The incident happened just before midnight on a train run by Connex South Eastern, which has recently been hit by a series of horrific attacks.

The train was stopped at Gillingham and two men were arrested by police.

Helen, who ousted the Tories in Peterborough last May, was travelling from the constituency to her home in Faversham, Kent.

She added: "I understand the woman refused to press charges, so the men were released.

"I think she was terrified of reprisals from her attackers.

"She was viciously attacked and I find it deplorable that things like this are happening so often on trains. I have raised the matter of safety with Connex. They have got to get more security on their trains or they are going to have more attacks.

"Trains need to be more brightly lit, with open carriages not small compartments, and to have more guards on them, particularly at night.

"If there were more staff on trains and at stations it would deter would-be attackers."

Recent incidents on Connex services include the rape and assault of a woman student in a toilet on the Hastings to London line and a sexual assault of three young boys in Sussex.

British Transport police confirmed that they had arrested two men after the latest attack, but said they had been released without charge.

A spokesman said: "We had a complaint and we took action. A woman was interviewed, who we understood at the time had been attacked.

"However, the alleged victim said she did not want to proceed with any prosecution and we cannot go ahead without any evidence.

"While I cannot discuss this case itself, it is as frustrating for us if a crime appears to have been committed but we cannot obtain vital evidence."

Simon Eden, the spokesman for Connex South Eastern, said the matter was in the hands of the police and he would not comment on the attack.

He said: "We do all we can to ensure the safety of our passengers."

MP Helen was mugged on the Underground at London's Euston station last June.

She was jostled by youths as she waited to get on a Tube train and the muggers snatched her purse, containing her credit cards.

She said: "There was a scuffle and someone pushed me as I tried to get on the train.

"I saw people running away and when I got to my stop at Victoria I realised my bag was lighter. I was pretty shaken, but not hurt."

Afterwards she started a campaign for large "Beware of Muggers" signs to be put up on the Tube system.

Helen turned a 6,254 Conservative majority into a 7,323 Labour victory at Peterborough last May.

After the election, the Prime Minister posed at a photocall at Westminster with his 101 women MPs, including Helen, who were dubbed Blair's Babes.

Shortly after the election Helen announced she was to divorce from her teacher husband Ian, 47.

Voice of The Mirror - Page 6
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Peacock, John
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 4, 1998
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