September 2015

Three Derby sisters speak of years of abuse by stepdad as he is jailed for 12 years

THREE sisters have spoken of years of sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of their stepfather.

Patricia and Terri-Ann Michalik and Danielle Michalik-May have waived their right to lifelong anonymity to speak openly about how James Lawton, 44, ruined their childhoods when he came to live with them in their home in Mackworth in the 1990s.

They fear Lawton, who has been jailed for 12 years, has other victims and they are urging them to go to the police.

For Danielle, who is now 30 and lives in Derby, the abuse began when she was eight years old. It only ended when Lawton was taken from their home to be extradited to Ireland, where he was convicted of sex offences he had committed when he was younger, and was made to serve a three-year jail sentence.

Danielle said: “I think there will be other victims – he’s a predator and he’s done this before.”

She said Lawton had abused her on a daily basis and she now suffers from panic attacks and anxiety and felt like she had been serving a “prison sentence” since the abuse began.

“Nobody can give me back the 22 years of my life I have lost,” she said.

“At the time I was scared and embarrassed but you don’t realise until years later that it should never have happened. I thought I was protecting my younger sisters – I used to put them in bed and offer myself up rather than him touch them.

“It was not until we spoke about it a few years ago that I realised he had abused them as well when I was out of the house. On any occasion when friends stayed over I would make sure I slept in front of the bedroom door so that he couldn’t get in and to protect my friends from him.”

Danielle said she was really pleased with the sentence and felt it was “just”.

“I think now we are finally speaking about things and realising it’s something we shouldn’t be embarrassed about. It’s time to take the next chapter of our journey and deal with it as sisters together,” said Danielle

Patricia, 25, and Terri-Ann, 23, both of Mackworth, were both abused by Lawton from the age of about five.

Terri-Ann said: “I have no happy memories of my childhood – it’s just all horrible stuff. Now I feel that everyone has a motive for something.”

Patricia said the abuse had left her feeling “a very angry person”.

Lawton, of no fixed address, admitted at Derby Crown Court nine counts of indecency and indecent assault between 1993 and 1999.

Martin Elwick, in mitigation, said that in 2004, after serving his prison sentence in Ireland, Lawton had met a woman from Botswana and they had married and moved to her home country.

“He returned to this country to finalise some paperwork and was arrested as a result of complaints made in 2012,” said Mr Elwick.