THE victim of a brutal, unprovoked assault in Helensburgh more than 50 years ago – in which the attacker was never found - has admitted she will “remember it forever” and still wonders who may have been responsible.

Sheila Munro, who now lives in South Africa, has recalled the horrors of the evening in October 1967 when a man with a stocking over his head forced his way into her home in John Street, pushing the young mother to the floor before repeatedly striking her on the head with a wooden club and fleeing as her 18-month-old baby lay sleeping in the next room.

Days after the terrifying encounter, a front-page article in the Advertiser described the “vicious, senseless crime” as then 20-year-old Sheila shared her story, explaining: “I want people to know what happened to me. The man is still at large and people must be warned.”

More than half-a-century on, and with no suspect having ever been traced, Sheila – who retains a copy of the paper to this day – says the absence of a clear motive has confounded her ever since.

“I really do not care who did it, but the over-riding factor is why?” she said.

“I was unable to get a babysitter that night and I told my husband he must go to the movies on his own and I would stay at home with our baby.

“Around 9.30pm there was a knock on the door. I thought that was odd because I had not heard footsteps coming up the concrete stairs.

“Still uneasy, I opened the door slightly and was confronted by a man who had a stocking over his head. I flung myself against the door in an effort to close it, but a woman’s strength cannot equal that of a man, and he pushed the door open and pushed me onto the floor. I landed against my baby’s pram. He then produced what looked like a baton and proceeded to hit me repeatedly over the head with it.

“During that time my mind went lucid. I thought ‘I have to remember the details of how he was dressed and what hand he is using to hold the baton’.

“I tried to scream and kick, but I was hyper-ventilating and no sounds came out. I felt myself losing consciousness, but was instantly brought round by this thought – ‘if this is what he is doing to me, what will he do to my baby?’ A mother’s instinct is extremely strong!”

The assailant escaped after being chased by Sheila and a naval officer who had heard the commotion from down the street. The police were called as Sheila was taken to her local GP to treat her wounds which were bleeding profusely.

There, she was told the plastic rollers she had in her hair at the time had actually cushioned the blows and prevented further damage.

Sheila’s policeman neighbour, PC David Graham, lived in a flat across the landing and was the officer who took the call about the attack.

Sheila said: “I never returned to the flat after that but went to stay with my mother in Cardross.

“An intense police investigation went under way and that was one of the reasons for the publicity in the Helensburgh Advertiser. It was done on their advice in order to warn others.

“I have never felt let down by the police investigations as I know of many routes they followed, although no one was ever arrested.”

Sheila moved from Helensburgh in 1976, before working as a teacher in Saudi Arabia and recently returning to South Africa.

While she says she has just a scar to act as a physical reminder of the traumatic experience, it took her a while to recover emotionally.

She added: “During my visits to Helensburgh, the topic of the attack has come up but not dwelt on as many years have passed.

“Events in one’s life have the purpose of shaping you into the person you become.

“Perhaps that attack played a part in making me a stronger woman.”