Raped in an am­bu­lance

Sick step­dad kit­ted out the van for his twisted fan­tasies…

Chat - - CONTENTS - Sara Hitchen, 28, Lan­cashire

I knew he wasn’t tak­ing me to get some sweets

Wak­ing up in a sheen of sweat, I des­per­ately tried to catch my breath.

Swing­ing my legs out of bed, I crept across to the bed­room where Mum and her part­ner Andy Wil­son, then 23, were asleep.

‘I’ve had a bad dream,’ I whis­pered into the dark­ness.

Andy stirred first, peer­ing at me stand­ing by the door.

‘Get in,’ he smiled, lift­ing up the du­vet.

It was sum­mer 1996 – and, at 5 years old, I still liked the com­fort of my mum when I had a nightmare.

But as I clam­bered un­der the quilt in the mid­dle of them both, I felt Andy take my hand and place it down his shorts.

‘You’re my spe­cial girl,’ he whis­pered.

Then he forced me to touch him as Mum slept soundly be­side us.

‘If you ever tell any­body, they won’t be­lieve you,’ he warned after­wards.

A tow­er­ing 6ft 3in bloke, Andy was in­tim­i­dat­ing at the best of times, and

I knew not to cross him. ‘I won’t,’ I whis­pered. Back in my own room, I sobbed qui­etly.

I didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what’d happened.

But I knew how it made me feel and I didn’t like it.

From then on, Andy would try to get me on his own

when­ever he could. One day a few months later, while Mum was out, he asked if I wanted to go to the sweet shop. ‘Come on, we’ll take the van,’ he leered.

The ‘van’ was ac­tu­ally an old am­bu­lance Andy had parked in the back yard.

He’d stripped the in­te­rior, fit­ted it with benches and beds.

Blacked out the win­dows and in­stalled a lit­tle cooker.

But as he led me to the old ve­hi­cle, I knew he wasn’t tak­ing me to get some sweets.

‘Lie down,’ he barked, point­ing at the makeshift bed.

As Andy un­buck­led his belt, I could only watch in ter­ror.

Then, in the back of that dingy old am­bu­lance, he raped me for the first time.

Un­able to fight him off,

I lay there silently un­til he’d fin­ished.

Then I ran back into the house, sob­bing un­con­trol­lably.

The rest of the day, I was in agony. So sore, I could barely walk.

From then on, Andy would make up rea­sons for me to join him on ‘trips’ in the am­bu­lance.

Once, he even parked in a su­per­mar­ket car park and abused me. He’d take pho­to­graphs as

well, doc­u­ment­ing his sick abuse.

A year later, af­ter I’d turned 6, Andy told Mum the po­lice were af­ter him.

He never said what for, but Mum seemed de­ter­mined to stand by him.

‘We have to leave,’ he said. Too young to ques­tion any­thing, I joined my broth­ers and sis­ters as we packed a few clothes in ruck­sacks and set off. For the next few years, we moved be­tween camp­sites and tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion around the coun­try, never stay­ing any­where long enough for peo­ple to know our names. Mum pulled me out of school and I spent most of my time with my sib­lings. Mov­ing around so much kept us un­der the radar when it came to so­cial ser­vices, too. Some­times, I’d spot other kids and des­per­ately want to go over and in­tro­duce my­self – but Andy would never al­low it. ‘You stay here,’ he’d snarl.

All the while, he kept up his hor­rific cam­paign of abuse. It made me sick to my stom­ach each time he beck­oned me over. But what could I do? I was trapped. My child­hood be­ing stolen bit by bit.

Mum spent most her time sleep­ing, or out, mean­ing Andy had the run of things.

He made sure any doors and win­dows were al­ways locked, cur­tains al­ways drawn. Pris­on­ers in our ‘home’.

We weren’t even

al­lowed to go out­side with­out his per­mis­sion.

There was emo­tional abuse, too. One morn­ing, Andy locked me in the bath­room, only open­ing the door once to dump a pan of plain pasta and hot dogs on the floor.

‘That’ll have to last you the day,’ he laughed.

Where once I used to wake from my night­mares, now I was liv­ing one – with no way out.

Then, one day in late 2003, when I was 12, one of Mum’s friends vis­ited.

He was still in touch with my bi­o­log­i­cal dad, and I man­aged to con­vince him to give me an ad­dress.

A few days later, I turned up on Dad’s doorstep.

‘I’ve been try­ing to find you for years,’ he sobbed as we clung to each other.

He’d even gone through the rub­bish of our last per­ma­nent home, hop­ing to find a for­ward­ing ad­dress.

That night, I went home and told Mum.

‘I’ve found Dad,’ I said.

Andy, who had over­heard, went white.

The next morn­ing, he’d packed his bags and left.

I think he knew the mo­ment Dad was back in the picture, his abuse was over. Mum was heartbroke­n. She didn’t un­der­stand it, tried to con­vince Andy to re­turn. But he wasn’t hav­ing any of it. A few years af­ter re­con­nect­ing with Dad, I fi­nally felt ready to tell him what had happened.

‘Andy abused me,’ I blurted on the phone one night a cou­ple of years later, when I was 14.

Dad begged me to go to the po­lice.

‘I just want to move on,’ I said. In the end, Dad called them. I was an­gry at first, but as they took my state­ment that evening, I started to feel I’d done the right thing.

Later, I was hor­ri­fied to dis­cover an­other victim had come for­ward, too.

Andy was ar­rested, a trial date set.

I felt sick, pet­ri­fied I’d have to give evidence. But on the sec­ond day of the case at Crown Court, Andy de­cided to en­ter guilty pleas on six charges.

Andy Wil­son, then 36, ad­mit­ted two rapes, two counts of at­tempted rape, in­de­cent as­sault and sex­ual in­ter­course with a girl un­der 13.

He had al­ready ad­mit­ted four counts of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with a child.

The court heard he’d fa­thered chil­dren with his sec­ond victim.

Ut­terly de­praved. Shock­ingly, he even tried to jus­tify his ac­tions in court.

He asked his de­fence bar­ris­ter to in­form the judge at least ‘he was not a sex­ual of­fender in the bushes, wait­ing to pounce’. Sick.

In March 2009, Wil­son was sen­tenced to 15 years in prison, with a fur­ther 10 to be served on li­cence.

I did my best to move on. Yet Wil­son only served nine years be­fore he was back on the streets – I hate the thought he could be nearby.

I have a fam­ily of my own now. Be­ing a mum has changed my life, although I’m prob­a­bly a lit­tle over­pro­tec­tive.

But my chil­dren mean the world to me.

I’ll never, ever let any­one hurt them the way Wil­son hurt me.

Shock­ingly, he even tried to jus­tify his ac­tions

So young, I didn’t un­der­stand what was hap­pen­ing… …grad­u­ally, my child­hood was stolen from me

Now I have a fam­ily of my own

Guilty: Andy Wil­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.