My world fell apart. I wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye to my own father
Kirsty, a South Wales Against Wrongful Convictions member, writes about the devastating impact of a wrongful conviction on her family life. This article is part of our #CCRC20 series – see here – thanks very much to Cardiff Law School Innocence Project for their support.
The reality hit as my father was in the dock awaiting sentencing for a historical sexual abuse which he didn‘t do and for which he is still maintaining his innocence.
While my father was in the dock, the accusers and their family sat behind us laughing, joking and mocking my family. They called my cousin a ‘four-eyed bitch’.
As the sentence of 16 years was read out, they clapped and cheered. I shouted, ‘I love you’, as my father was led down the stairs. I was also called a ‘bitch’ among other things. One of the accuser’s family jumped over the bench and tried to verbally and physically abuse us. My brother said, ‘Watch your back’, then we were told to sit down. Unknown to us there were police behind us and they took the so-called ‘victims’ and their families out laughing and joking. The accusers then took selfies outside the court and put them on Facebook.
We were then taken to a room by our barrister. My world fell apart as we weren’t allowed to say goodbye or hug my father.
All of our family were devastated. We had to call the doctor when we came home as mum was on the edge of a breakdown. They gave her something to help her sleep and some anti-depressants that she is still taking.
The hardest thing was telling my three children that their Bampy had been given 16 years for crimes he didn’t commit. They were devastated. It was like a big black hole had engulfed us and we didn’t know where to turn or what to do. Until that moment, my children had seen their Bampy every day. They loved spending time with him and helping him with jobs.
The accusers set up a Facebook page in my dad’s name and hacked into our contacts and sent disgusting messages, saying to people of all ages that they hope my dad rapes them all. This was reported to the police. They said there was nothing they could do.
The accusers carried on sending vile abusive messages to my eldest son, then 19, saying his Bampy should have a bullet through his head, and that he had probably raped him. It was torture, as my eldest son had spent all his time with my dad and classes him as his dad. This really messed him up and he wouldn’t leave the house.
But the most devastating news was still to come. My son was living at my mum’s. I thought he was doing OK until I had a phone call in work saying: ‘It’s South Wales Police.’
My heart sank. I couldn’t take it in what they told me next. My eldest son had been found by a member of the public trying to hang himself. I am so grateful to that person who phoned the police and helped my son. He was seen by mental health and is now on anti-depressants and he struggles with day-to-day life.
My daughter, who was 12 at the time, was always a bubbly character. She used to enter singing competitions all over the UK. She was even invited to the USA where she performed live. One day on her way back from the shops she was spat at in the face and called ‘paedo lover’. It continued and she would not leave the house even with her friends.
I was cleaning her room and I found this in her diary:
‘My life is not worth living anymore. I used to be so happy, I don’t want to be here anymore. I love my Bampy so much and I miss him. I’m not allowed to see him as I am not 18.’
As you can imagine, this was heartbreaking for a mother to read. She has received counselling and after a year of fighting she can now visit her Bampy.
My middle son, who was 15, has taken a totally different approach. He has looked over my dad’s case and found so many inconsistencies that he went to college to study law. He is now going to university to become a barrister. He has been strong and amazing – I’m so proud of him.
Due to the stress of trying to hold the family together I myself have become ill. I now live in constant chronic pain. Some days I can’t walk. My doctor has said I have fibromyalgia which is an incurable lifelong condition.
The most hurtful thing of all is the accusers in this case spent a lot of time with my family up until they were in their mid 20s. Then following the Jimmy Savile revelations, they made up these allegations, colluded on social media, even advertising for people to come forward. Even though they said it wasn’t about the money, we have heard that they have claimed compensation – we note that it is strange that their accusations all started when my parents sold their house. That makes us think that they thought my parents then had money and that was their motivation.
It is time that payment of compensation for historical sexual abuse claims be reviewed to reduce the number of false allegations.