August 2013: Bowman is now living close to a school in the Byker/Heaton area of Newcastle

February 2010

Brave victim speaks out after abuser is jailed

HER childhood was destroyed by her paedophile uncle.

ronald-bowman

But today, the victim of pervert Ronald Bowman has finally been given justice 16 years after she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her relative.

Brave Lisa now 26, has waived her right to anonymity to break her silence and reveal the torment she suffered at the hands the person she trusted “more than anything”.

Bowman, at the time 51 but now 67, is beginning a two-year stint behind bars after being found guilty of indecent assault and gross indecency with a child, twisted crimes he thought he’d got away with.

From the age of nine, Lisa suffered in silence for a two-year period as she was forced to take part in sick “games” with Bowman, including children’s favourite hide-and-seek.

Terrified of spoiling her relationship with her close-knit family and fearing nobody would believe her, it took the mum-of-one, with the support of her new husband Paul, 15 years to tell her family and eventually go to the police.

And now inspirational Lisa, from Gateshead, is telling her story in a bid to encourage others in a similar situation to step forward.

Lisa said: “The grooming started when I was six. He basically made me into his best friend – we spent so much time together and I completely trusted him.

“We are a close family as a whole anyway, but Ronnie and I were particularly close. Nobody thought anything about it, even though I was six and he was in his late forties – everyone just thought he was a dedicated uncle.

“Then, when I reached about nine, things started to change with him. He would play games with me, which I didn’t realise at the time were wrong. Games like hide-and-seek, and if he found me than I had to do a ‘forfeit’.

“He would always say to me afterwards ‘best friends don’t tell anybody anything’ and, because I was so young, I didn’t.

“After about two years, I began realising it was wrong what he was doing. There was one comment he said to me that just made something in my head click and from that moment, I just started ignoring him completely.

“That’s when the physical abuse stopped. My family realised something was wrong because we had gone from being so close to me completely ignoring him, but I just told them we had had a big falling out.”

For the following 15 years, Lisa tried to forget about Bowman, of Hamilton Crescent, Spital Tongues, Newcastle, and move on with her life, refusing to even acknowledge him at family events.

“As the years went on and I grew up, I did start to forget but I didn’t realise how it was affecting me subconsciously, continued Lisa. “I was suffering from depression and drinking more than usual.

“At the time it was all happening, I only told one person – my best friend at school. I made her promise never to mention it again as I was scared it would break up my family. I also felt nobody would believe me if I spoke out.”

It was only when she met her husband, Paul, that Lisa spoke of her ordeal for the first time since she was 10.

“I eventually told Paul and we both cried. He never pushed me into telling someone but he gently nudged me to.

“In May last year, I eventually told my mum. I tried a few times but I knew how much it was going to hurt her.

“We were having a drink together when I blurted it out. I was shaking like a leaf and we both cried. I wasn’t sure in my head she believed me, even though deep down I knew she did, so the next day I asked her to come with me to the social club where Ronnie usually hangs out.

“I asked her to stand by the door and watch his reaction on his face when I went over to speak to him. I hadn’t spoken a word to him in so long, but I went up and sat opposite him.

“Then, I leant over and said ‘I’ve told on you’. His face said it all and my mum could tell too.”

A few days later, Lisa’s mum persuaded her to go to the local police station to report it. She was immediately transferred to a specialist unit in Newcastle.

Bowman was interviewed by police and finally arrested but Lisa never thought enough evidence would be found to convict him after such a long time.

She said: “The girl I told at school I had lost contact with but by chance I bumped into her again and asked if she remembered what I told her all those years ago. She did and she agreed to tell the court.

“When it finally came to the court trial, I was petrified.

“My two sisters were the only people who sat through the whole case – it was too hard for the rest of us. I sat in on Ronnie giving evidence and I couldn’t believe what he was coming out with – he said we had never spent any time alone together. He never once looked at us or showed any emotion throughout the trial.”

“Being cross-examined was petrifying – I felt like I was the one on trial.”

Last month, Bowman was found guilty after trial at Newcastle Crown Court of two counts of indecent assault on a female and two counts of gross indecency with a child.

He was given a two-year prison sentence and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

“My life changed when the guilty verdict was read out – a huge weight had was lifted from my shoulders,” said Lisa.

Determined Lisa, who is now back at work, is starting out a new phase of her life with Paul and their one-year-old daughter.

She said: “I haven’t been able to stop smiling for the past few weeks – it feels like I’m starting afresh and the future looks so exciting. I didn’t expect to feel like that. I finally have closure on it all, which is an indescribable feeling. Now, I don’t feel like a victim, I feel like a survivor.

“I wanted to talk about my experiences because, since speaking out, I have realised how common it is.

“The hardest part is facing up to things yourself.

“I want to get a message across to people in a similar situation that you can’t bottle it up – you have to tell someone, it doesn’t matter who. You don’t have to feel like you’re alone, there is always someone who can help.

“Ronnie is out of all our lives now. We have cut up all photos of him, and we can all move on. Hopefully, he will never be able to do what he did to me to anyone else.”

Paul said: “I’m so proud of Lisa, she’s such a strong person. It feels like the cloud hanging over us has disappeared.”