Bethany didn’t judge James for his dad’s past But he was de­ter­mined to fol­low in his foot­steps

Pick Me Up! Special - - Front Page -

Lug­ging my back­pack to­wards my Scout group’s tents on the New For­est camp­site, I buck­led un­der the weight. ‘Let me help you,’ a young lad asked. ‘I’m James.’ ‘Bethany,’ I blushed. James and I spent the whole week­end to­gether.

He was funny, cheeky and charm­ing and re­ally brought me out of my quiet shell.

Af­ter we got home, we added each other on Face­book.

We started mes­sag­ing on­line and soon met up to go to the cin­ema, then James in­vited me around to his house for tea.

A week later, he asked me to be his girl­friend.

We were only 15, but I was con­vinced James was my soul­mate.

Af­ter a few weeks, James opened up to me.

‘My dad’s in prison,’ he

I wasn’t go­ing to judge him

con­fessed, a bit em­bar­rassed.

I had met his mum - a scout leader on the camp­ing trip - but I didn’t know where his dad was.

‘He’s a bad per­son,’ James con­tin­ued. ‘He’s a rapist.’

James ex­plained that he was just 12 when his father, Neil Hunt, now 47, sprang from his car, threw a help­less woman to the ground and vi­o­lently raped her.

He then drove home and slipped into bed be­side his wife, James’ mum, Heather.

James’ par­ents had later sep­a­rated and he had lost con­tact with his dad in Oc­to­ber 2006 when Neil was ar­rested for a mi­nor crime. A DNA check by po­lice linked Neil to an un­solved rape from 17 years pre­vi­ously. As a lit­tle boy, James watched TV re­ports of the trial at Winch­ester Crown Court which ended in his dad’s con­vic­tion in July 2007.

His dad was jailed for 12 years, re­duced on ap­peal to seven years.

Since then James and his mum had com­pletely dis­owned his dad, dis­gusted by his be­hav­iour. Of course I

was shocked, but I didn’t judge James or his fam­ily.

James was kind, car­ing and gen­tle; noth­ing like his dad.

But over the next few months, I started to see a dif­fer­ent side to him. Four months into our re­la­tion­ship, we got into a silly ar­gu­ment. I don’t even re­mem­ber what it was about, but rather than let it go, James got re­ally worked up and lashed out at me. I thought he was go­ing to punch me, but at the last sec­ond he hit the wall di­rectly be­side my head. Ter­ri­fied, I quickly moved away from him. Straight after­wards, James was mor­ti­fied. ‘It’ll never hap­pen again,’ he promised, gen­uinely up­set. Giv­ing him the ben­e­fit of the doubt, I be­lieved him. ‘He didn’t ac­tu­ally hit me,’ I thought to my­self, try­ing to de­fend him. But James started

to be­come ex­tremely ma­nip­u­la­tive and con­trol­ling.

Once there was a party he didn’t want me to go to and he hid my purse and the dress I wanted to wear.

But two months later, we were sat in his bed­room.

We hadn’t had sex yet, but it was clear it was what he wanted.

‘I’m not ready,’ I told him, ex­pect­ing him to be un­der­stand­ing.

But ig­nor­ing me, James pinned me down and forced him­self on me.

‘What are you do­ing? I cried.

I des­per­ately tried to push him away, but James was too strong. He raped me.

After­wards, James acted like noth­ing had hap­pened.

Com­pletely numb, I went home, rushed straight up to my bed­room and buried my­self un­der the cov­ers, cry­ing.

But the next day, James was full of apolo­gies.

Young and naïve, I re­alised I was scared of him and I vowed never to tell any­one about what he did. To make it up to me, James would sur­prise me with lit­tle presents and I felt so loved.

‘It must be me. I prob­a­bly wind him up,’ I thought.

For a while James went back to his usual bub­bly self, but ten months later, he did it again.

I found out a few weeks later that I was preg­nant.

James was happy, but I just felt so com­pletely trapped. I knew I’d have to stay with him.

Ter­ri­fied of telling my par­ents, I even­tu­ally plucked up the courage when my mum, Mag­gie, came into my bed­room for a chat one even­ing.

‘Don’t be mad,’ I croaked, sheep­ishly. ‘But… I’m preg­nant.’

‘Oh Bethany,’ Mum sighed, dis­ap­pointed.

I left her to break the news to my dad, Keith, know­ing he’d prob­a­bly hit the roof.

Af­ter the news sank in, James moved in with me and my par­ents to pre­pare for the baby’s ar­rival.

I wanted to make things work for the sake of our lit­tle fam­ily. But when I was 20 weeks gone, James raped me again. This time at my fam­ily home – while my par­ents were down­stairs. ‘Why?’ I cried, after­wards. ‘Dad did it so I have done it now,’ he said.

I was liv­ing in con­stant fear of his un­pre­dictable mood swings and ran­dom vi­o­lent out­bursts.

James was by my side when I gave birth to our daugh­ter, El­iz­a­beth, in Septem­ber 2012.

James proved he was an im­ma­ture and un­re­li­able dad.

I couldn’t trust him to look af­ter our lit­tle girl and I knew I had to end things with him for her sake.

In De­cem­ber 2012, I told him it was over and we vowed to re­main civil for El­iz­a­beth’s sake.

I never went to the po­lice or re­ported the rapes to any­one.

He’d been my boyfriend when he at­tacked me and I didn’t think any­one would be­lieve that it wasn’t ac­tu­ally con­sen­sual.

But a few months af­ter we split, in Fe­bru­ary 2013, I re­ceived a phone call from the po­lice. They asked if my ex-part­ner, James, had ever raped me when we were to­gether. I blurted out that he had and of­fi­cers came to take a state­ment. The next thing I knew, James had been ar­rested. He was charged with four counts of rape - three against me and one re­lat­ing to a sec­ond girl. I later dis­cov­ered that po­lice had been made aware of what had hap­pened af­ter James had bragged to a mu­tual friend that he’d raped me and even sick­en­ingly boasted that he had copied his sex fiend dad, say­ing: ‘Like father, like son.’ Our friend was a PCSO and felt he had no choice but to in­form his su­pe­ri­ors. In time, James ap­peared at Portsmouth Crown Court. He was jailed for eight years in Oc­to­ber 2013 for the at­tacks on me – as well as for the rape of an­other woman. De­spite claim­ing he de­spised his dad, he’d fol­lowed in his foot­steps. I’m now bring­ing up El­iz­a­beth, now four, on my own. She was the re­sult of James rap­ing me and one day I will have to tell her about her dad. James has writ­ten to me from his prison cell, beg­ging to see El­iz­a­beth, but there’s no way I’d al­low that to hap­pen.

I have some tough con­ver­sa­tions ahead with my lit­tle girl. But I’ll tell her that even from the most evil acts, comes some­thing as per­fect as her.

‘DAD DID IT, SO I’VE DONE IT NOW’ JAMES SAID I felt so com­pletely trapped

Preda­tor History Re­peat­ing

Neil Hunt was found guilty

James al­ways had an ex­cuse

Bethany Hazell, 22, Portsmouth

How will I tell my lit­tle girl?

She’s been worth all the pain

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