Raped in an ambulance
Sick stepdad kitted out the van for his twisted fantasies…
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