Crowe - Richard John - Photo.

Sydney man Richard John Crowe who raped five children sentenced to 12 years’ jail

Updated 4 Sep 2015, 12:15am

A man who kidnapped and raped five children across Sydney more than two decades ago has been jailed.

In what authorities described as “every parent’s worst nightmare”, Richard John Crowe grabbed girls as young as nine off the streets and took them to remote locations, where he raped them at knifepoint.

Crowe eluded police for 25 years before cold case investigators finally cracked the case.

The 45-year-old from Riverwood was arrested last year and, after pleading guilty to multiple charges of kidnapping and sexual assault, was yesterday sentenced to a maximum of 12 years in jail.

District Court Judge Anthony Garling said the attacks were calculated and predatory.

“He set out to physically attack young girls — children — going about their daily lives, no doubt feeling safe and enjoying their youth, as they were entitled to do,” he said.

“He terrified them, changed their lives, they no longer feel safe. It has badly affected all of them.”

‘Long hard slog’ to find Crowe

The sentencing was the culmination of an exhaustive police investigation beginning in 2011.

The NSW Police Force’s Cold Case Justice Project was able to identify the same DNA at all five crime scenes and the new lead was referred to the Sex Crimes Squad. Strike Force Woolwich was formed to investigate all five matters.

Detective Superintendent Linda Howlett, who oversaw the investigation, told the ABC it took three years of hard slog to narrow down the search for the rapist.

“They went back to basics, they attended the crime scenes,” she said.

“They looked at old offender photos, checked with corrections, looked at modus operandi, not only in NSW but other states as well.

“It really was hard work. It took them a couple of years. At one stage they had a list of 13,000 persons to look at and they managed to break it down to about 116 persons, and as a result of that we identified the offender.”

Other victims of sexual assault urged to come forward

One of Crowe’s victims, Rebecca Nimmo, said she had given up hope of an arrest because it was like “finding a needle in a haystack.”

“What the police have done is unbelievable. Amazing. I never thought in a million years that this day would ever, ever happen,” she said.

Ms Nimmo was 17 years old when Crowe grabbed her from behind as she walked to work in Artarmon in 1991.

Speaking exclusively to the ABC, Ms Nimmo said Crowe threatened her with a knife and dragged her into nearby bushes.

“All I could think about were things on the news about other people that have been raped or gang raped,” she said.

“All I was doing was going ‘just let me go. I don’t care what you do to me, just let me go’.”

After the attack, Crowe told Ms Nimmo she could go, but she froze.

“I was scared he was going to chase me again. So I just froze in the bushes and just waited for him to leave the scene,” she said.

It was one of five similar attacks on young girls across Sydney between 1989 and 1991. The other girls, aged between nine and 12, were abducted from streets in the Bankstown area.

In each case, Crowe took the girls to isolated locations and raped them.

The cases were thoroughly investigated, but due to forensic limitations at the time, no-one was charged. That was until it was re-opened as a cold case.

Detective Superintendent Howlett said police wanted to encourage rape victims to come forward, no matter how long ago they were assaulted.

“Once we have an investigation we just never give up. If you commit an offence we’ll eventually track you down,” he said.

Ms Nimmo is relieved that she will no longer be looking over her shoulder for Richard Crowe.

“I have tears of joy that you’re going away. Justice has got you,” she said.

“It’s given me a sense of stability again. It’s made me feel like I’m a person again.”

She said she had decided to go public to urge other victims of sexual assault to seek help.

“Never give up. It’s not your fault. And don’t ever blame yourself because it’s out of your control,” she said.

Crowe will be eligible for parole in 2022.


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  1. After all the hard work by the police to catch this mongrel, you would think that the judge would give the 12 year sentence X the 5 victims …….. kidnapping AND rape of children needs to have a fitting sentence to reflect the disgust of the community and judges fail most times to give the true maximum sentence……..Bravo to the police and kudos to Rebecca for speaking out, it is not the victims’ shame, but ALWAYS the perpetrator……

    • rachel says:

      Hi priscilla, Rebecca is amazing and has been such a great support to me her and have a bond forged for life as she is this monsters last known victim and I am his first known victim.
      Myself and Rebecca and the other three girls and our families were shocked outraged and hurt that a twelve year sentence was passed this sentence equates 2.5 years jail for each girl and eligible for parole in 6 years, when he is released my little girl will be 9.
      We are hoping for a longer sentence at the appeal but I’ve learnt not to get my hopes up.
      But as for the cold case team although at times and I’m sure bec would agree it’s been a nightmare and at times wish that it had never been reopened having to relive it over n over again had been hard
      We are ever so grateful to the team who found him the 3 years of hard work and hours away from there families to help us and to keep our streets safe words can’t express my gratitude they really are the hero’s st the end of the day and don’t get enough recognition for the difficult and emotionally drawing job they do

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