Survivors of vile Bonhill rapist are hailed for their bravery in speaking out

Posted: 8th March 2023

Three rape survivors who waived their right to anonymity to send a united message to their attacker in the Lennox have been hailed for their bravery.

Danielle Barr, Alexandra Bhengu-Smith and Violet Fox told vile rapist Paul Callanin ‘you didn’t win’ after the 35-year-old from Bonhill was found guilty at the High Court in Glasgow of raping them between 2005 and 2013 earlier this month.

They are now encouraging other victims of sex crimes to speak out, with Alexandra saying: “We’re waiving our right to anonymity because we want people to know they should not be ashamed.

“Why should we hide because we’ve done nothing wrong?”

This week, local figures hailed the trio for their bravery.

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said: “I am grateful to the survivors for speaking out and commend them for their bravery in standing up to this man who has shown no remorse for his actions. Rape is the most despicable of crimes.

“These survivors have shown considerable strength and I am thankful that, despite the trauma they will undoubtedly still have to deal with, they want to use their experience to help others and make a difference to others faced with a similar situation.”

At a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council’s housing and communities committee last week where the latest sex crime statistics were published, the inspirational survivors were praised for their courage in speaking out.

Labour deputy council leader Michelle McGinty said: “We’re all aware that there has been a number of high-profile investigations that have resulted in people being brought to justice.

“When you listen to the victims involved in the case who have spoken out then I think they are a credit to everyone.

“Some of these historic victims now feel that they are able to come forward and get the support needed to report these crimes, no matter how long ago they took place.

“Hopefully we will continue to support people who have been victims and give them that space to be able to report these crimes, and ensure they go to court and get a positive outcome.

“We should put on record our thanks to the victims for their bravery after such a harrowing court case.”

Newly-released figures show that sexual crimes have increased by 25 percent in Argyll and Bute and 21 percent in West Dunbartonshire respectively since 2018.

Chief Superintendent Lynn Ratcliff admitted she expects this figure to rise further – as more victims of sexual violence feel confident enough to come forward.

She said: “It’s really important to highlight the courage it takes for a victim of a sexual crime to come forward.

“Our detection rates are up quite considerably in West Dunbartonshire.

“For sexual crimes overall it’s up by 20 percent.

“Our detection rate for rape is up by six percent and for indecent assault it’s up by 55 percent.

“I expect to see that increase.

“Much of the rise is around historic crime. We persevere to bring those offenders to justice.

“Police Scotland recently did a survey of victims who have come forward to report sexual crimes.

“And the feedback was very positive for the support offered by police officers as well as our partner agencies.

“We will never lose sight of the impact that type of crime can have on the lives of victims.”

Welcoming the conviction of Callanin, who will be sentenced on March 9, Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Edward, head of Public Protection for Argyll and West Dunbartonshire Division, said: “We welcome the conviction of Paul Callanin for serious sexual offences.

Source: Daily Record

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