June 2009

‘Every parent’s worst nightmare’

“FIVE years in jail is absolutely disgusting for the hell this family went through.”

These are the words of the aunt of the Cleethorpes schoolgirl, who was abducted by a 49-year-old lorry driver.

Robert Williams – of Glebe Road, Whitburn, Scotland branded “every parent’s worst nightmare” – sparked an international nine-day manhunt and worldwide publicity when he abducted the 15-year-old, had sex with her in a London hotel and then took her to France.

At Grimsby Crown Court, Williams, was sent to prison for five years after admitting taking a child under 16 and engaging in sexual activity with the girl – who cannot be named – in January.

Her parents said they were pleased he is now behind bars and will put the ordeal behind them, but her angry aunt told the Grimsby Telegraph: “He should have been thrown into jail for at least 10 or 15 years. I feel like this means that anyone can abduct a child, do what they want with them and then only get five years.

“It’s all wrong and I am in shock. Five years is not long enough – especially as he admitted it.

“I cannot believe it. We all went through hell when she disappeared.

“It was the worst thing I have ever gone through. The whole time she was missing, it felt like my heart had been ripped out.

“But this is even worse. It feels like he’s got away with it. It’s just disgusting.”

The court was told how Williams met the girl over the Internet, used a fake name and pretended he was 19 years old. Their relationship escalated to the events of January.

Jeremy Evans, who prosecuted the case, said Williams was “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

After the hearing, he said: “Robert Williams went online to contact a schoolgirl and mask his age until he had won her trust, interest and affection.

“He bombarded the teenager with text messages. She believed she had found a friend. Instead, she had found an abductor who went on to abuse her sexually.

“Although his victim may have appeared willing, she is a victim all the same.

“She had no idea of the situation she was getting in to or how to get out of it when she found herself miles from home without access to food, money or contact with her family.”

The girl’s ordeal caused serious problems for her and her family, the court was told.

At school, she felt “everybody was looking at her and laughing behind her back” and her attendance suffered.

Her mother described the experience as “totally heartbreaking” and said her daughter was now a different person.

The girl became frightened of using the computer and the Internet and her mother felt “bitter and angry”.

A statement released by her parents said: “We are pleased this man is now behind bars, as it means we can put this ordeal behind us and move on as a family.”

Her aunt said: “When she was missing, it was just awful. Seeing her on CCTV with that man made me sick. Her life has been destroyed. She’s no longer the young, carefree person she was.

“She is quiet and has difficulty trusting people now. It’s heartbreaking.”

The girl’s cousin said: “I’m glad he’s been sent to prison, but he should have been punished more.”