The mother-of-two who was raped eight times in her own home, was finally vindicated and justice finally prevailed after her attacker was jailed, twenty years after he thought he had successfully masked his trail and got away with the heinous crime.
Lynda Donnelly, then 25, was brutally raped in her house in South-East London in 1996 as her two young children lay sleeping in their bedrooms.
While she recovered and struggled to cope with the aftermath. Her attacker, Pierre Antoine Bate, moved to the US and embarked on a successful career as a music producer and real estate dealer. In court he boasted of driving Aston Martins and partying with celebrities and film stars.
Lynda’s persistence found impetus with new DNA techniques and the efforts the London Met police’s cold case team to finally bring him to justice. This summer the jury found him guilty of eight counts of rape, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Lynda Donnelly can now put the nightmare behind her after waiting 20 years for her rapist to be brought to justice
Donnelly said she reported it to police straight away, but officers destroyed key evidence that they admitted should have been kept on file for 30 years.
She said: ‘I isolated myself from everyone, including my family, as I didn’t want them to see me break down.
‘People thought I was a liar – especially when I was told at one point the case didn’t exist because they couldn’t find a file for it.’
Lynda fought for years to keep cops looking for her attacker as they made a catalog of embarrassing mistakes. Nearly all the evidence, including traces of fingerprints and the bedding, was destroyed because it was seven years old. At one stage she was even told her case didn’t exist.
But Bate was arrested in 2011 after the Metropolitan Police reviewed the case and recovered a DNA sample matching Bate.
Bate, now 42, broke into her family home in Thornton Heath and told Lynda his “mates” were with her children, who were sleeping in their rooms just seconds away. He told her to stay silent or he’d hurt them, before blindfolding her and raping her eight times in a sickening attack which lasted four hours.
Pierre Antoine Bate in a 1996 photo. He lived about 100 yards from the victim when he committed the crime
Lynda recalled the sickening ordeal. She said: “I think I’m dreaming. He’s looking out of my window but slowly turns round. Looks at me. I realize I’m not dreaming. I try to make a beeline for the door, but he takes two strides and beats me to it.
“He grabs me and says: ‘I’ve got mates in with your kids.’ I try to get away. He grabs this arm from behind me.”
“My brain’s racing. I’m thinking: ‘How do I get out of this?’ Even if I get out of this room, there’s no way I’m going to run out of the house and leave my kids.”
She said: ‘I tried to get up and run but he pushed me back down on the bed and started ripping off my underwear.
‘I didn’t want to scream and wake my kids up as they would have found me naked, and probably dead.
‘It was an absolute living nightmare. He kept saying he was leaving but he just came back for more.’
Det Supt John Macdonald of the Met’s Sexual Exploitation Team apologised to Linda.
‘If Linda feels let down by anything that the police did during the initial investigation I apologise for that.
‘However the fact that Bate was not identified until 2011 is simply because it took us till then to process the other cases that pre-dated hers.
Lynda unraveled after her ordeal, every one doubted her and evidence disappeared until DNA resuscitated the case
Lynda went to the police straight after the attack and officers collected evidence from her home, including bedding, a dressing gown and a cigarette packet with Bate’s fingerprint.
But this crucial evidence disappeared and was never recovered – and as the months wore on Lynda slowly began to lose hope that police would ever find her attacker. Cops failed to make a single arrest and Lynda was shunted between officers for years.
In March 2008, an episode of Crimewatch featured an episode on the Minstead Rapist – and although it came out the crimes were committed by someone else, Lynda thought the attacks were similar to her own.
She phoned the hotline, but her calls were never returned. And when she called Police Complaints, she was told her case didn’t exist.
However, her luck changed when a cold case team turned up on her doorstep in 2011.
They said they’d found Lynda’s statement and wanted her to sign a release form for the DNA evidence collected after the rapes.
“I said: “I’ve been told for years that this case doesn’t exist. Now suddenly you’re asking me to sign a release form,” Lynda said. “I was getting angrier and angrier. The officer said they’d found my statement.
Lynda Donnellys says “I’ve done 20 years in my own prison. Now, I have a chance of a new beginning.”
“The next time she came she said: ‘Do you know a guy called Pierre Bate?’”
He was finally arrested the same year after advanced DNA techniques meant officers could match the semen taken from Lynda’s body in 1996 to Bate’s.
Cops applied for Bates to be extradited from California, where he was staying in the US.
He was finally convicted last month after just an hour of deliberation from the jury.
Lynda found out that Bates had spent 26 months in Jail in the US for a sexual assault he’d committed just a year before he attacked her – and in 2014, he had been arrested for charges of sexual assault and attempted murder.
She is now hoping that any other victims will now feel safe enough come forward.
“I’ve done 20 years in my own prison. Now, I have a chance of a new beginning,” she said.
“That’s why I hope that if there are any other women who have been attacked by him, they’ll come forward. There needs to be an end to this.”
Pierre Antoine Bate claimed partied with Hollywood heavyweights liken Leonardo DiCaprio
The rapist who boasted in court of his friendship with Leonardo DiCaprio and Natalie Imbruglia has now been jailed.
Pierre Bate, 42, broke into his victim’s home in London and put on a fake Irish accent as he threatened to kill her and harm her two children before repeatedly assaulting her in the 1996 attack.
Pierre Antoine Bate claimed to have dated Australian singer actress Natalie Imbruglia
Bate insisted he was the victim of a ‘perfect storm’ and bragged of supposed links to Hollywood stars, calling former Jamiroquai drummer Nick Van Gelder to give evidence in his defence.
Mr Van Gelder appeared to support Bate’s claims that they had partied with Oscar-winning star DiCaprio. Bate also told jurors that he had previously dated songstress Natalie Imbruglia, though the truth of this has not been confirmed.