Carrying on from where I left off in part 1. We now finally have a trial date 11th September 2017. Just a mere 2 years and 5 months since I first walked into the Warwickshire police station and made my ABE (achieving best evidence video statement). Upto now, of the 4 abusers I reported, two have been filed as it’s my word against theirs, if there is anything you are almost guaranteed to get away with, child abuse is right up there. One (a family member who the police know has at least 5 victims) has been passed over to social services for safeguarding due to his having custody of some of his children. I am told that these children are the safest they have ever been thanks to my disclosure, am I to believe that? Not on my watch. Anytime I can draw attention to this sick individual and have a chance of brining him to justice, I most certainly will. He may think he has gotten away with it for now, but karma will catch up with him one day soon. Lastly the one who the police chose to progress with, given his prolific offending.
Again, as previous I will carry on in a time line fashion, to make it easier to follow events as they took place.
11 September 2017 – The trial is set to take 4 days. As a family we all gather and offer each other support on the morning of the first day. I am so scared and equally so very determined that he will not win this round. I had originally opted to have screens, so that I could only see the judge and the jury, not the abuser. I was concerned that I did not want to be triggered into a blubbering mess if I had to come face to face with him. Well once again he was allowed to call shots, he was not going to appear in person, but via a video link! Out fucking ragious. Sorry, but this floored me. Right no need for screens then, this made me more determined to look directly at him and show I was not a little girl anymore, but a fully grown woman, mother and grandmother, who was not afraid of this low life scumbag.
Deliberations and selecting a jury, took up most of the morning. After lunch it was expected that I would take the stand first, as I made the initial report. Time ticked on well into the afternoon and my barrister expressed that it wasn’t likely I would take the stand today, so I sort of relaxed a little. Even if I was a little disappointed. I saw it that I would be refreshed and ready first thing the next day. Nope! at 4.15pm, when the court session finished at 4.30pm I was called in. Really!!!
So head held high, but shaking internally, I took to the stand, took my oath and looked up to see someone I barely recognised. There he was in a bloody wig! Seriously you could not write this. Again he was allowed to mock the system, hide his identity from me, and appear mentally unstable. No sooner than his barrister had torn into me, the video link went down and court was adjourned til the next day. So now I am in a right state, not only do I now have his image imprinted on my brain, so much so, that I see him everywhere, even now, but I also have an idea how absolutely terrifying it will be tomorrow having to face it all again.
Day two and I am ready for the fight, I tell myself it has taken 38 years to get to this point, a lot of badgering the police to get on with it and so I am going to take to the stand with grace, tell the absolute truth and look to the jury to understand the pain and suffering this man has put my family and i through. That even all these years later he is still trying to wield power over me by making me endure a full trial. That he will not succeed this time, I am the one holding the power! The same day my sibling had to take the stand, they too were standing tall in their own power and showed the abuser they were not so little anymore either. Third to be called was our father, this trial was breaking his heart, it was plain to see. He could not apologise and express his hurt to learn all we had gone through, when he and our mother separated. We did everything to console him and let him know that we did not have any bad feelings towards our Dad, we knew he loved us and given the chance he did try to gain custody of us all those years ago. Our mother on the other hand, shows no remorse, thinks and thought only of herself then and now, so much so that we have not spoken to her for ten years. Today she is also a witness, although we as a family, including our Dad believed that she too should have been on trial.
We initially decided collectively not go into the court whilst she gave evidence, we already knew she would lie and play the victim card herself. But at the last minute I thought no, I want to hear how vile this woman is. So we all went in. Yup she was every bit the victim still. Poor me, I didn’t know, I am so ill now, I love my children so much. Bleurgh! Absolute bull. See I know that in her initial statement to the police, she had said that I had led the abuser on. I was 6 years old for god sake! I will never forgive her. I thank her only for showing me how ‘not’ to be a mother. Thank goodness my children and grandchildren will never know her.
The third day we were all so mentally and emotionally drained, we decided not to attend the trial. Though all day it was awful not actually knowing what was going on, what his cross examination had been like and how the trial was going. I even had to call witness care late in the day to find out if he had even took to the stand, so to speak, given he was on a video link anyway!
So on the fourth and final day, we all returned to hear the summing up. At no point did anyone say we are going to read out and explain all 13 charges in detail to the jury, when my sibling and I had requested that neither of us, or our Dad were in court to hear it. Non the less, they proceeded and we all ended up hearing every last disgusting bit of what had took place all those years ago when we were just 6 and 4 years old. Non of us where prepared for to hear this, the court goes on regardless. It’s as though once you have done your bit, you are no longer part of the process.
We all sat there tears streaming, holding hands and having to listen. Charge after charge, vile inhumane acts on children read out loud for all to hear. Actually hearing them in such an environment, impacted on how very serious it had all been. How we had survived what most adults wouldn’t/couldn’t from a very young age. How this really was not our fault, and that this man was finally being held to account.
They now released the jury for deliberation and we were told to either stay in the building and wait, for what could be 10mins, and hour, days even. Or if we left and the jury came back, they would not wait for us to return before giving their verdicts. What, so we had waited all these years, and the court would not give us the courtesy of watching him when the verdicts were returned. Like I said before, this is not about us anymore, the wheels of justice have no time or consideration for the victims. Luckily there were two ISVA’s in training in the public gallery, they heard all of this and came to offer to stay around so we could leave, and they would let us know if the jury returned so that we could get back in time.
I had a feeling that they wouldn’t take too long, we all agreed that we felt this.
No more than 45mins later we got the message to say they’re coming back! Panic stations ensued as we ran for our lives to make it back and not miss a thing. When we got there our wonderful barrister had made himself unavailable for a short while to give us a chance to get there.
So the jury returned, all 12 had unanimously agreed their verdict on all 13 charges in only 45mins! One after another we heard ‘GUILTY‘ to each and every charge. I cannot tell you how overwhelming it was to hear. We hugged, cried and consoled each other. Finally we had been heard and most importantly, believed. Time to celebrate, but was that right? Should people celebrate, it’s not like we’ve won anything, we can’t get back what he took. But yes when it all sinks in, we bloody well should celebrate!
Well the court adjourned the sentencing until 13th October, as they had to try and understand how the charges would have stood in the 1980’s to what they are now. Very different they are too. In the 80’s sentencing would have been very lenient, and the Judge and barrister wanted to ensure he faced the maximum they could impose.
Roll on to 13th October, this was adjourned prior to taking place and rescheduled for 3rd November. Sadly my sibling had, had to return home (he had been specifically flown in for the trial). So on 3rd Nov, the remainder of the family went to court on the afternoon as was scheduled, only for it to be put back once again due to another case running over. Just when we thought it would all be over, we should have known that the system does not roll like that.
Fast forward once again to 24th November, scheduled for an afternoon session, so we didn’t hold out much hope. But….finally, he was sentenced. Twenty two f’ing years imprisonment and 5 years extended licence. Absolutely unbelievable. Our barrister and the DC could not believe he had been so severely punished. What a fantastic outcome and regaining of power we felt in that moment. I say in that moment, because you think i’ll just get through this case and then…
I’ll feel better? I will be miraculously cured of the ongoing mental health issues I have due to the abuse? I can pick up my life and carry on with it? Yay, now everything can be ‘normal’ again?
Sadly this is not the case…and is an anti-climax to any trial. Yes we were incredibly lucky to have gotten this far, to have been heard and believed. Yes he is not going away for a very long time. But, we still have to serve the sentence he gave us when we had no choice or part in it. This is the reality. He is in a mental hospital until he is deemed ready to be returned to prison to see out his sentence. He has a roof, 3 meals a day, access to all the medical facilities, staff, psychotherapy he needs. And we get? Nothing, Zilch, Nada!
I have been told (after already being on the waiting list for over 2yrs whilst awaiting trial) that the current NHS mental health trauma therapy waiting list is 9-12 months. How can this possibly be right. Offenders are able to play the system, waste tax payers money by delaying, changing their names and pleading mentally unfit, which results in professionals having to do reports, and they are not cheap. Then they are put up at her majesty’s pleasure, whilst the victims who have had to fight every bit of the way to get heard, never mind believed and a sentence gained. And they then do not even qualify for help to recover, until a much later date. Bottom of the pile as always. Used by the abuser, discarded by the system. No wonder many take their lives, I get it, I really do.
So back to the very start I suppose, to report or not to report child sex abuse?
That is very much a personal choice, I hope my journey helps you in making that very important decision.