A Wigan mum who was attacked in her own back garden by a stranger has warned women to be wary of late-night predators.
Claire Farrell, of Ladysmith Avenue in Ashton, was returning home from a friend’s house when she was grabbed by the hair and dragged to the ground by an unknown man.
The 38-year-old mum-of-three told the Observer how she had made the five minute walk at around 2am when the attack happened.
Claire said: “I was walking through Ashton and like I usually do I had a key in my hand.
“It’s normally pretty busy in Ashton at any time of the night, there are always cars passing or people knocking about.
“I have always felt safe walking around. I have lived here for years. But this night it was like an apocalypse - it was just so quiet.
“I had my headphones in at the time and was listening to Florence and the Machine.
“I have got to the Curry Pot on Gerard Street and I could have cut through the alleyway towards Aldi but I decided to go down Princess Avenue as it is slightly lighter.
“As I got closer I got my other keys out ready to go in but when I got to my gate he just grabbed my hair from behind.
“I don’t know how we ended up in my garden. I was struggling with him, it was probably only seconds but it felt like so much longer.”
As the pair grappled on the floor, Claire says she was pinned onto her back by her attacker.
“I thought for a minute ‘he’s got me here”, she said. “Then a kind of abnormal strength came over me. I started hitting him in the face and ears and kicking him at the same time.
“I must have got him because he curled into a ball which was when I picked my keys up and got into the house.”
Once inside Claire realised that she had left her keys on the wrong side of the door and put the dead-bolt on while she called police.
“My adrenalin was pumping,” she said. “The police were brilliant though.
“The emergency operator stayed on the phone with me for around 40 minutes. She made me go to the window and check if anyone was around.”
Police seized Claire’s jacket for DNA, but she was later told it was “inadmissable”.
Because she was not sexually assaulted or robbed of any possessions, Claire said police were unable to ascertain the motive behind the attack.
“I think he would have raped me,” she said. “He attacked me and he pinned me down - that’s just how it felt at the time.
“I just feel so sorry for the young girls out there who could be targeted. I had a pony tail in so police think I may have looked young to him at the back.
“He clearly picked on the wrong woman.”
Claire, who has an 18-year-old daughter, said that she is now taking taxis “everywhere” after the assault.
“I would just urge women out there to be careful.
“Do not put your headphones in while you are walking,” she said.
“I was a target not a victim and I don’t want anyone else to be.”
A GMP spokesperson said: “Shortly after 2:40am on July 31, police were called to Ladysmith Avenue to reports that a woman had been grabbed by a man before a struggle ensued.
“The woman managed to fight the man off before getting to safety. The offender fled the scene.”