Girl, 17, hounded from home by neighbours after reporting rapist to police

News

In a statement the teenager said she is too terrified to sleep following her ordeal at the hands of rapist Eric Stevenson, 53, from Middleton near Rochdale

A 17-year-old girl was hounded from her home after revealing to police she was raped by a man while his wife was at church.

The youngster was assaulted in her own home by Eric Stevenson, 53, who has been jailed for 12 years.

Despite Stevenson being trapped by DNA evidence, locals in the girl’s neighbourhood took sides with him and she was forced to moved away as a result.

In a harrowing statement she said she is now too terrified to sleep at night in her new home, and has lost friends following her ordeal.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spoke out as Stevenson, from Middleton, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester was jailed.

She said: “I have decided to speak so my abuser knows exactly how he made me feel because I’m sure he could see it in my eyes.

“I have been scared to open up on my feelings but it was thought it might help give me closure and look forward.

”I have lost my friends as everyone around me was forced to take sides – and nobody chose me.

“I still feel so alone. I hate myself for feeling vulnerable and when I think about what happened to me, I feel sick and ashamed.

”I do not want to be a girl who has been abused. I want to be a normal 17-year-old girl who goes out with their friends but now I am too afraid. I am afraid of the dark and I am scared to leave the house.

”When I do, I look behind me every ten or so seconds. No one understands. Sometimes, I will have good days then something little happens like my brother or sister coming into my room without knocking and I get triggered.

”My mum bought me a night light which I keep on because I’m afraid of the dark. This has helped but I still struggle to sleep some nights as I go over what has happened to me. I feel like I’m in a nightmare when I’m both awake and asleep.

”I’ve been made to feel worthless, angry, sad and hurt. I have lost everything. I am so alone with my thoughts that I have thought about ending things. I know that isn’t the way, I just want the pain to stop.”

The investigation began in October 2019 after the girl spoke to a teacher at her school and told her she had had raped the previous weekend.

Jonathan Savage prosecuting said: ”The defendant was interviewed by police officers and asked to comment on the allegations the complainant had made but denied he had done anything to her.

”But the clothing she had been wearing over the course of the previous weekend was seized from her and this included the shorts she had been wearing.

”When the shorts were analysed, DNA was found on the inside of the front of the shorts and a trace of the defendant’s DNA was found on them.”

Stevenson who joined his wife at the church after the attack, denied rape and assault but was convicted after a trial at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.

In mitigation defence counsel William Donnelly said: “This defendant is a man who has reached his mid 50s and who has significant health problems.

”He is a man of no previous convictions and a sentence of imprisonment will hit him hard and have lasting effects on him and his life.”

Sentencing Judge Paul Lawton told Stevenson: “What you did to her was quite appalling. It happened in her home, which she should have regarded as an entirely safe fair haven. As a consequence, she was compelled to leave in the days after what happened.

“What you did to her will have caused incalculable damage for the rest of her life. We heard a heartfelt victim personal statement from her. She now faces a long term psychological battle as a result of your actions. She was particularly vulnerable and this was planned sexual abuse in the absence of your wife.”

Following his release from jail Stevenson will be on licence for an extra two years under the terms of an extended sentence. He was further ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for life.