We picked up our stuff and ran. In court 2, the public gallery is above the court. Me, my sister, my husband. I realised later my mum and J from victim support were trailing behind. Down the corridor, up the stairs, through some doors, and some more, up past 2 more flights of stairs. I couldn’t breathe, but I was so terrified of missing it. I was terrified of seeing him. I hadn’t seen him yet. I had been behind a screen. I still couldn’t remember his face; only parts of it. His eyes, his forehead, his hair, his shirt. I was nervous. What if he got off? Then he would know I had told AND know what I looked like? But I needed to see him in the dock. I needed to see his face whilst waiting for the verdict. What if we had missed it?
We burst in. The judge wasn’t there. We had time. His brother was there. I didn’t want to see him. We all kind of glared at him as we filed past. The mother and partner of another survivor was there (I now know this to be Warrior3’s mum). We found seats in the front row and sat down. Mum and J sat behind. I had always said if Dad was alive he would be there with popcorn. I brought some with me. Just knowing I had it with me made me feel in control. I felt like knitting (but I didn’t). Knitting at the Gallows.
They brought him in to the dock and he sat down. He looked up at us. This was the first time I had seen him. It was the first time he had seen me. It was the first time my husband had set eyes on the man that still petrified me. He had seen the impact of his actions. It was so strange seeing him. Seeing him now, older, when but I have blocked his face of the past.
The judge came in and sat down. HE continued to looked up, and I just glared back. He shook his head. It’s just as well that there was bullet proof glass across the public gallery: “you fucking shake your head” I said. Loud enough to have been heard by the judge if the glass hadn’t been there. I glared and glared until he looked away. You are there because of me. Because of us. I wanted him to know that he hadn’t silenced me.
The usher stood up and began to ask on count xyz how do you find the defendant. The jury were underneath us. We couldn’t hear. It sounded like guilty? Was it guilty? I think that was guilty? It was a short word like guilty? She read the charges, we strained, almost putting our ears up to the glass. I saw the usher write something down… I think that was a not guilty….my husband said no I think it’s guilty. This continued as the charges were read out. This was THE moment. The moment we had been waiting for, and we couldn’t bloody hear it!
I emailed the detective. We can’t hear! She replied instantly. GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS! I began texting friends. One word. Guilty! The replies coming back thick and fast.
The prosecution stood up and began discussing with the judge the maximum sentences for each charge. The way the law works is that you can only be sentenced using the guidance available at the time. I think this is ridiculous. You can’t be sentenced to death, they have to make adjustments. I think they should make similar adjustments for historical sexual abuse. We are much more aware now of the impact it has on people’s lives and the sentencing should reflect this.
As the prosecutor and the judge discussed the complications of each sentencing tariff I was struck by how short a sentence he would have got it it was just me. Although that said, it still would have had a lasting impact on his life. The judge said he needed to have time to think. He also wanted impact statements to look at. He needed to think about it overnight. In those milliseconds it took for him to utter his next words, my fear told me he would be released overnight and would be free to escape. The judge then said, “I’m placing you on remand in Belmarsh overnight”. YES!! we all said in unison. “Take him down”. His brother stood up and gave him and thumbs up. A
FUCKING thumbs up!
We hugged. My sister, my mum, J and then finally my husband. “I’m so proud of you” he said. His brother had sloped off. Good. I didn’t want to see him.
A thumbs up? WTAF? You KNOW what he did. You knew. DAD told you. You heard us all describe it in court.
We came out of the public gallery and were met by the detective. More hugs. You did it! How do you feel? THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH. Down the stairs through the sets of doors and we are met by the prosecution barrister. THANK YOU THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING YOU DID, “no not at all”. THANK YOU.
And back to that little room. I needed to update my impact statement. I did this with the detective with the others waiting outside the room. I expected her to call my sister in, then it hit me. She didn’t get to do this bit. He wasn’t found guilty for her.
We were done, the car arrived, and the detective walked us out if the court and back to the car.
We ran down the corridor, up the stairs along another corridor, up more stairs and burst into the public gallery. Out of breath we found seats and composed ourselves. We’d beaten the judge into court. Mum, my brother in law and the woman from victim support followed us in. He was in the dock. He looked up at us and shook his head. I shook my head back.
The foreman was almost inaudible from the public gallery. As they read all the counts – we were “was that a guilty?”. We couldn’t be sure, the DC made a small thumbs up gesture. There were some guiltys in there but we couldn’t be sure how many…
The judge summarised at the end. Unanimously guilty on all counts. The judge surmised he would sentence the next day. What did this mean, would he go home and then come back for sentencing? When he told him he was spending the night in Belmarsh we all cheered.
The verdict came from the police, guilty on all charges..he was going to prison!
I remember the call came just as I was going out to the school run ( am a childminder) I was numb. A few other childminders who knew were hugging me when I saw them but I was just numb..It took time to process it..and I thought I would feel happy or relief but I felt cheated..cheated he hadn’t been found guilty on my crime
I was happy too for the other girls who had got justice. The next few days were a blur , a very tearful few days. I sought counseling cos it was obvious I wouldn’t be able to carry on as normal
I found it privately and the counselor said to me I had wound up my emotions so tightly and set them aside to be able to deal with the process that now it was over I was unraveling
That’s exactly how I felt, unravelled..I’m still working on that
It was only days after I had given evidence. Maybe a week at most but it was the longest week. The police had asked if I had wanted to be in court for the verdict. I thought about it but decided against it. If he was going to be found not guilty, I needed to be somewhere I could fall to pieces easily and work was as safe a place as any to do that. If I had been in court and he’d been found not guilty, I’d have been sick. Now, in hindsight and the safety of a guilty verdict, I wished I’d had more faith in the jury. But I’d been here before and I wasn’t prepared to take the risk. The call came… and I could feel my stomach going crazy… she said… he’s been found guilty…. on all 16 charges!!!