BOYFRIEND TURNED RAPIST TO BE LIKE HIS DAD
Bethany didn’t judge James for his dad’s past But he was determined to follow in his footsteps
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