Paedo photo shoot
After what he did to me, this man should never be free
Running around the green, I tapped my friend Paul on the shoulder.
‘Tag, you’re it!’ I laughed, dashing off. It was summer 2001, and I was playing with Paul by the flats we lived in.
All us kids knew each other on the block.
After an hour, Paul went inside to check what time his tea was.
As I waited by the entrance, I noticed a man on the landing.
Balding with some tufts of hair at the back and sides, he was holding a camera.
I was 5, outgoing, adventurous – and living in such a friendly area, I started chatting.
‘What are you doing?’ I asked him curiously.
‘I’m taking pictures of graffiti,’ he smirked.
When I asked why, the man explained he worked for the local council.
Realising Paul had been gone for while, I decided to head home myself.
But as I began to wander out of the door, a hand grabbed my arm, tight. ‘Ouch!’ I yelped. Turning, I first thing I saw was the camera. The stranger I’d spoken to. Terror coursed through me as he bundled me off my feet, covered my mouth and took the stairs two at a time.
I kicked and wriggled, tried to scream, too. But his hand pushed tightly over my mouth, muffling my cries for help.
Tears streaming down my face, I sank my teeth into his hand. ‘Be quiet or I’m going to hurt you,’ he snarled.
Just off the top of the stairwell was a small room.
There, the man dropped me to the floor. I wanted to run. But frozen with fear, I didn’t move as he placed a pink feather boa around my neck. Then he pushed up my skirt and yanked my underwear off.
After that, things moved in a terrifying, confusing blur as he assaulted me.
He took intimate photos as I sat on the cold, hard floor, weeping in terror. I didn’t understand what he was doing.
Afterwards, I ran home in a panic.
Bursting through the door, I saw my mum Alison, 23, was getting tomato soup ready for tea.
‘You’re early,’ she smiled. ‘You must be hungry!’ ‘I’m not hungry,’ I croaked. ‘But it’s your favourite,’ Mum soothed.
I told her I wasn’t feeling well, then I went to my room to watch a video.
I was so confused by what had happened, didn’t know how to tell Mum.
That evening, my grandma Jacqueline, 40, looked after me while Mum met a friend.
I’d pushed what happened
out of my mind, until... The second Grandma turned off my bedroom light, I let out a piercing scream.
‘What’s wrong, love?’ she gasped, fumbling for the switch. I paused for a minute, then... ‘There was a man in my pants,’ I sobbed. Her face went white. Soon, Mum was bursting through the door with police officers.
She wrapped her arms around me.
‘I’m so sorry, sweetheart,’ she wept.
I could tell from the look in her eyes that she was utterly heartbroken.
I was questioned by police, and examined by doctors.
But the damage had been done.
I became withdrawn, never
I sat on the cold, hard floor, weeping in terror
wanting to go outside and play with the other kids.
I suffered terrible flashbacks, saw doctors, became depressed.
School was my only escape, but I struggled to make and keep friends.
I was very nervous around men, even those I knew.
Then, a year later, Mum said my attacker had been arrested.
His name was Joseph Millbank, 41, and he’d preyed on other girls, too.
Police explained I might have to give evidence against him in court. But it never happened. Instead, in 2002, Mum told me, ‘The bad man is in jail, he won’t hurt anyone any more.’ I finally felt safe. But the echoes of what Millbank had done were never silenced.
I struggled with anxiety and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.
As I grew older, I began to understand what had happened to me. And I needed to know more.
In 2011, aged 16, I went on my laptop, and typed Joseph Millbank into the browser.
For the first time in over a decade, I came face to face with my attacker. His mugshot had been in the papers.
Seeing his face made me feel sick, i k then th angry.
I read the full details of his depraved crimes for the first time.
Millbank had been a selfemployed shop-fitter, and had abused multiple girls while travelling across Scotland.
After his arrest, police discovered over 400 photos of 32 girls, aged between 3 and 8, on his computer.
He’d originally been given six years in jail for a series of indecency offences.
I learnt that several victims’ parents, including Mum, were so outraged by the lenient sentence, they’d fought a hard campaign to increase it. And they’d succeeded. Millbank’s sentence was raised to 10 years in 2002.
I couldn’t help feeling an overwhelming pride in Mum and all the others who’d fought to keep that monster off the streets for longer.
‘Thank you,’ I sobbed to Mum, throwing my arms around her. She’d done all that while never letting me know, keeping me safe.
Her show of strength taught me I could be strong, too.
I wasn’t going to let Millbank haunt me any more.
In the New Year, Millbank will be set for release. It makes me sick. I have young children of my own now. Kids should be able to grow up free of monsters like him.
Joseph Millbank was said to be a ‘real danger to little girls’, by the investigating detective chief inspector.
So what’s changed since then?
I hope sharing my story will encourage others like me to speak up.
Our voices are more important than ever.