May 2011

Rape victim sees attacker jailed at last after 35 years

A RAPE victim has spoken of her 35 years of torment in which she struggled to find the courage to take her attacker to court.

The woman had lived with the horrific memory of being abused from the age of seven.

It was only when years later, aged in her 40s, she saw her attacker in the street on a number of occasions that she finally managed to overcome her fears and go to police.

She said: “I started seeing him about and it just unearthed all the pain and emotion.

“Going to the police and talking about what had happened to me was like opening up an old wound. It was all still so raw.”

The woman sat in court and watched as Neil Morrell, 53, was sentenced to two years for the crimes he committed when he was a teenager.

The victim, who cannot be identified, said it was only in the past few years that she had begun to realise the gravity of what Morrell, of Darley Abbey Drive, Darley Abbey, had done.

She said: “I think I had minimised in my mind what he had done but when I started to talk it through with a counsellor I realised the significance of what I had been through.

“Every day I used to think about going to the police but didn’t really know how to make that move.

“The counselling helped me rationalise why I needed to go to the police and helped me find the courage to do it.”

Morrell admitted four counts of indecent assault and one count of rape, committed while he was aged between 15 and 17.

He was sentenced to two years for each count, to run concurrently.

His victim said: “The sentence was very disappointing but despite that I would encourage other victims to report any abuse and don’t regret telling the police.

“It isn’t easy but I think it has made me stronger person and I have learned a lot about myself.

“The verdict doesn’t make up for what he did to me but it will help me to move on.”

Derby Crown Court heard how, when the abuse was happening, Morrell’s victim “stayed quiet, shut her eyes and told herself it would stop”.

Avik Mukherjee, prosecuting, said: “She didn’t tell anyone.

“He told her not to and also told her that no one would believe her.”

Morrell was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register, where his name will now remain for the next 10 years.

Five other counts, four of indecent assault and one of rape, relating to when the victim was aged between 10 and 12 years old, were ordered to lie on file.

Mark Harries, in mitigation, said the families of all those involved in the case had been “shattered” by the “revisiting” of the events decades later.

He said: “Not withstanding the seriousness off these offences, they took place an extremely long time ago and all of the parties involved in this case are different people now from the people they were then.

“The victim was then a child but the defendant too was only a matter of a few years older.

“He too can be regarded as a child.”

On sentencing Judge John Wait said he had found the case “extremely difficult”.

He said: “These are very grave offences which took place over a substantial period, many months if not more, and at a time when your victim was aged somewhere between seven and nine.

“Had you been an adult committing these offences against a child the appropriate sentence would have been very long.

“It is a principle of sentencing that offences do not become less serious simply by the passage of time but while more than 35 years have passed since these offenses there are a number of factors that have to be borne in mind.

“Firstly the person who committed these offences was not Neil Morrell the grandfather but Neil Morrell the 15- or 16-year-old boy.

“And I have to bear in mind that you would have been dealt with at the time within the youth offending sentence regime.”

Judge Wait said he also took into consideration the fact that Morrell himself had been a “victim of abuse”.