A Dutchman wrongly jailed for the rape of three women finally got to see justice last Friday as the real culprit was given two more life sentences for attacks on women.
Romano van der Dussen wept in the public gallery alongside the family of Sally Ann Bowman, an 18-year-old who had been raped and murdered by killer Mark Dixie in London in 2005.
The Dutch national spent 12 years in jail after being convicted of three rapes carried out by Dixie on the Costa del Sol in Spain in 2003 and admitted that the experience has left him 'totally destroyed'.
Sally Anne Bowman. Credit: PA
"It was hell what I suffered due to him," van der Dussen told the Croydon Advertiser. "If police had done a proper job, if I wasn't sent away and they had a look for the real perpetrator - then this poor girl [Sally Anne] would be alive today.
"This is why I cried when I saw her sisters, when I saw Linda [Sally Anne's mum] and her ex-husband. I was crying for them, I felt so sorry for them.
"I had to be there because I cannot close this book, I cannot get on with my life. The family said to me that I am another victim of Mark Dixie."
Despite Spanish police finding no DNA evidence linking him to the rapes, van der Dussen was arrested and charged for Dixie's crimes. He then spent over a decade in prison being beaten, spat on and treated like a 'cockroach'.
The Costa del Sol, Spain, where the attacks took place. Credit: PA
The Dutchman has not seen his 16-year-old daughter since she was an infant and also missed the death of his mother while he was in prison. All the while, Dixie remained at large and went on to kill Sally Ann in 2005.
"As soon as I walked through the door the guards said I was a sex offender, basically go get him," van der Dussen said. "I was the lowest of the low. They could beat me, spit on me. I had no voice. I was a cockroach."
"I was suffering while days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years - and that's my fucking life. They put me in the infirmary with beatings."
Van der Dussen even asked to be put into solitary confinement for 23 hours a day for his own protection.
DNA evidence linking Dixie to the rapes came to light in 2007, but Spanish bureaucracy delayed van der Dussen from being acquitted. He was eventually released nine years later once Dixie's guilt was confirmed.
The real perpetrator of the rapes, Mark Dixie. Credit: PA
Van der Dussen now lives in Mallorca but struggles day-to-day to deal with the injustice he suffered, which is what led him to travel to London to see serial rapist Dixie handed two further life sentences for past crimes last Friday.
"I'm suffering everyday. I have too much emotion," said the father-of-one. "I find myself crying a lot. For the grief of what happened to these women and Sally Anne.
"From one day to the next, I have ups and downs. I am totally destroyed."
Dixie was convicted last Friday for raping a woman in 1987 and indecently assaulting another woman in 2002. He is already serving life for the rape and murder of Sally Ann and will not be eligible for parole until 2044.
Featured Image Credit: PA - the Costa del Sol, Spain, where the attacks were carried out