September 2010

‘Sex offender took away my childhood’ – victim’s story

JUST four months after she blew 13 candles out on her birthday cake with a head full of hopes and dreams, a Rugby girl had her innocence cruelly robbed from her.

Now 15, the victim of a string of under-age sex crimes says bluntly: “This man has taken my childhood from me.”

Her attacker, Steven George Burrell, (6/5/1964) was jailed on Friday for 33 months.

And the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, watched him get his sentence in court.

The last two years have been a living nightmare for the girl and her family.

She slipped into a deep depression. She turned to drugs and alcohol to escape her pain. She became anorexic and felt so low she started self-harming and even tried to take her own life.

The bright schoolgirl with straight grade As saw her school work plummet and her personality turn into someone not even she recognised.

In an exclusive interview at the family home, she told the Advertiser: “I’m grateful for the fact that he pleaded guilty but I hate him with a vengeance.

“I’ve been called a tart, a s**g and a w***e. I hope now people realise that I’m none of those things and I was telling the truth all along.”

The girl was so traumatised by what happened she could only cope with half days at school.

“I had flashbacks and would cry out in my sleep,” she said.

“I lived in fear of this man. I’d learned his number plate off by heart and was aware of him following me all the time.” She said the fear got so intense she had her first panic attack.

“I then kept on having them and had to be put on medication for the panic attacks, depression and lack of sleep,” she said.

“I’d do anything to escape the suffering and I’m extremely sorry to all the people I’ve hurt in the process.”

She would attend regular counselling sessions and just cry all the way through.

“I just couldn’t stop crying,” she said.

The first the girl told of the abuse was to her granny after she acted out of character and tried to hit her own mother.

Her mother said: “My little girl’s personality changed overnight.

“I didn’t know what was wrong with her. She had turned into such an angry person but I put it down to her being a surly teenager. I sent her to her nan’s and later on that day I had a call at work telling me to come home.”

The heartbreak and anger was too much for her mother to take and she took a baseball bat to the defendant’s car.

“We’ve waited two years for justice and now he’s in jail we don’t feel happiness, we feel relieved.

“He didn’t look at us in court and he showed no remorse.”

The girl feels she can finally move on and feel brighter about her future.

She said: “It is getting a bit better now I’m finding ways of coming to terms with what’s happened.

“I’m not over it, I don’t know if I ever will be, but I have to move on and so does my family.

Her mother added: “We want to move on now. We’re sick of the hold this man has had on us.

“The first thing we are doing to take steps in repairing what he took away is going away on a family holiday.”

The girl wants to concentrate on her schoolwork and fulfil her dream of joining the Army.

It’s clear she has been scarred for life from the events two years ago – her mother too.

Her mother says coldly: “I wouldn’t care if he was buried alive or if he killed himself, but I do feel sorry for his daughter.”

The girl concluded: “I’m pleased he’s in jail. I only hope the nightmare doesn’t begin all over again when he is released.”

The court copy from the case is as follows:

Man jailed for committing sex acts on a girl

A MAN who sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl has been jailed for 33 months.

Steven Burrell, 46, was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court on Friday after admitting two charges of sexual activity with a child in August. Burrell, of Whitefriars Drive, Cawston, initially denied the charges

earlier this year but later pleaded guilty.

At Burrell’s sentencing, His Hon Judge Richard Griffith-Jones was told by John Hodgkinson, prosecuting, that in August 2008 the victim was invited to Burrell’s house to help clean it and it was there where Burrell committed the offences.

“The victim told police that after one of the encounters – during which she was led upstairs and told to lie on a bed – she ‘felt dirty’ and felt she had been ‘treated like a w***e’,” Mr Hodgkinson said.

“Over the next few months, family members noticed something was troubling her but were unaware of what had happened until one of them persuaded her to tell them what was wrong.”

At the time of the abuse, Burrell, a former traffic warden, Ex council worker and ex royal signals befriended the victim and was using Facebook to contact her. Burrell was released on bail in August after admitting the charges, much to the distress of the victim and her family, who live in Rugby.

Judge Griffith-Jones told Burrell: “The first thing I want to say is that this girl did absolutely nothing wrong. She was 13, you were 44. There was a very large difference in age and I doubt, given the relative strengths of your character, that you were unaware that what you were doing was wrong.

“It is fortunate that this is the only young person you have had a relationship with.”

He added that factors such as Burrell having no previous convictions and that he was not considered ‘typically predatory’ had all been considered.

Burrell was given a 33-month concurrent prison sentence, made to sign the sexual offenders’ register for life and was made subject to a seven-year Sexual Offenders Prevention Order, banning him from contact with young people without the presence of their parent or guardian.