Monday, January 20, 2014

Father of rape victim with Down syndrome speaks out

by Alice Clinton from The Enquirer UK:

The father of a young woman with Down’s Syndrome who was raped last September has spoken about the “devastating” attack on his daughter and his anger over the short sentence given to her rapist. 

This comes after 18-year-old Liam Felton (pictured), was jailed for eight years for the offence on Monday (13 January).

On the evening of Thursday, 12 September 2013 the victim, aged 22, had been at home in the Harold Wood area with her mother and stepfather. 

Earlier that night they had attended an evening held in memory of the victim’s best friend, who had recently died due to heart problems. 

The victim’s father has said she was upset after the evening and had a headache. When her parents were asleep, just before midnight the victim decided to go for a walk and she left the house.  

The victim walked to Station Road and sat on a bench. Felton, who lived nearby and did not previously know the girl, walked past and doubled back to sit on the bench once he noticed her. Felton attempted to engage her in conversation and after around 15 minutes the pair got up and walked for about five minutes. 

Felton then grabbed the victim, forcing her into an alleyway behind some shops before raping her twice and fleeing the scene. 
  The victim returned home where she told her parents what had happened and they called police.

Felton lived in Heather Court, on Station Road, a sheltered housing unit for young people aged 16-24, which the victim’s father describes as “a big problem” for the area. It is understood that many Heather Court residents are previous young offenders. 

The victim’s father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the Enquirer: “Since the attack Havering Council have recommended my daughter goes into independent supported living. But these are the same services they were giving to Liam Felton, right on my daughter’s doorstep.

“The fact is, if Heather Court wasn’t there, my daughter would not have been raped. It’s as simple as that. And it’s heartbreaking for all of us.”

Officers from the Met’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command launched an investigation.

CCTV footage was analysed and showed Felton engaging the victim in conversation on the bench. 

His image was circulated and he was identified and arrested later that day after being identified by a police officer, he was charged on 14 September.

Felton pleaded guilty to two counts of rape at Snaresbrook Crown Court last year. On Monday, 13 January he was jailed for eight years.

Detective Constable Tim Glover led the investigation. He said: “This was a shocking and harrowing attack on a defenceless girl.

“The victim has Down’s Syndrome which impairs her both physically and in her speech - it would have been clear to Felton from his conversation with her that she had this condition.

“However, he chose to abuse her in the most callous way - I can only hope that his jail sentence gives some form of closure to the victim and her family.”

The victim’s father continued: “This attack was devastating for our whole family, it’s taken away all of her confidence and her trust in people, she used to be so trusting. 

“She won’t even go near that area now, she’s been knocked for six by the whole ordeal. Now every time she sees a young man in the street she shies away. 

“She was a virgin before this, and she’ll suffer for a very long time because of it. 

“I don’t think eight years is long enough, Felton is a monster.”

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