Written March 2018

Something massive happened in my life in 2017 and I'm only just ready to share it.

When I was thirteen, actually almost fourteen as it was February 1990, I fought off the amorous advances of a predatory paedophile for the last time because, after I don't know how many years of repeated incidents of sexual abuse, I finally felt able to say no to him even though he had cleverly manipulated and groomed me to be compliant since very early in my childhood. I honestly cannot tell you how old I was because I have no memory of when or how it started; it was always there, he was always there.

That day in 1990 it was just me on my own against a man who was well over 6 feet tall, who I now know was around 55 years old, and very determined to take what he wanted from me. I fought as if I was fighting for my life because that's how it felt to me. He kept trying to undress me and was putting his hands inside my clothing, but I kicked and pushed and scratched and did everything I could to protect myself. I told him to get off and leave me alone and he said, "what are you going to do about it?" so I told him, "I'll report you". He actually laughed and replied, "you wouldn't do that". You just watch me. When he finally realised his highly groomed "sex pot" wasn't going to play along this time, he climbed off me and let me sit myself up on the brown fabric corner sofa that was next to the back door in his Serpentine Court flat. My arm felt bruised and the sleeve of my leather jacket was torn, but that's nothing to what would have happened had I not found the strength to resist him.

The next morning, with my best friend at the time, I went to the closest police station and told them I wanted to report sexual abuse and was told someone would be in contact. Back at the house, I knew mother would have to be made aware of the expected police visit so I told her I had just reported Mick for abusing me. She already knew about it as I had been telling her repeatedly since I was seven years old. Her response? "Oh you silly cow, what did you do that for?!" No different to her usual parenting style but it still hurt me, why wasn't she supporting me against this man?

That evening a female police officer came to the house to take a statement from me. Her name was Felicity but she said everyone called her Flick. We sat in mother's kitchen and for the first time ever I had to talk to a stranger about the things Mick had been doing to me, and making me do to him, since before I could remember. Mother had to be present due to my young age, although I would have preferred she wasn't. Why was she acting surprised when I was telling Flick what had happened?! She knew what he had been doing to me, so why was she pretending it was the first she knew of it?!

We got to the end of the statement and I was told to read it through to check I was happy with it. Straight away I told them it wasn't right because it made it sound like each thing had only happened once when everything he had done had been repeated numerous times, often several times a week. Mother quickly dismissed me with a, "well it doesn't matter anyway" and that was the end of it. Flick took away the clothes I was wearing, apparently for examination, even though they weren't the clothes I had been wearing the day before when I had fought him off me so it made no sense.

In my naive thirteen year old mind I trusted the authorities to do what was necessary to stop this man from hurting anyone else, after all, I had told them the truth about him and what he had been doing for years so they had to do something, surely? No. A few months later I was told that the case had been reviewed by the CPS and they had decided there was no evidence to take it any further as it was just my word against his, oh and by the way, you can have your clothes back now.

And that was it... he was free to continue hurting others, but worse, because now he knew his victims wouldn't be taken seriously even if they were strong enough to stand up to him and report what he did. How many more children did he hurt once the UK legal system had made him believe he was untouchable?


October (I think) 2014. Jimmy Savile was all over the news, along with other aging celebrities being outed for historical child abuse, and, even though the memories of what Mick had done had always been clear in my mind, the media coverage stirred things up even more. Had anyone else spoken out against him? I wondered. Was it worth a call to police, to try once more to have him held accountable for his actions all those years ago? I text my brother Tony, who had been aware of my 1990 report, to tell him I was thinking of trying to get the case against Mick re-opened and the reply I received literally made me shudder. Tony told me that if I did decide to go to police again, this time he would also be willing to speak out about what Mick had done to him.

Within about 30 mins of these texts, I made a call to the Thames Valley Police non-emergency line to make another report. The lady who answered my call sounded very shocked when I started the conversation with "over twenty years ago I reported a man for child sexual abuse and I would like to see if the case can be re-opened please". She listened patiently before going on to explain that it wasn't that simple and that if there wasn't any evidence back then, then things wouldn't be any different now. That was when I told her this time though, my brother was also willing to speak out, so now there was more than one victim and they were suddenly a lot more interested.

Over the next year or so, Tony and I had meetings and phone calls with police as they slowly but carefully started digging into history to see what evidence they could find to support our claims. At some point during this time Mick was arrested and questioned, and of course he denied everything. Time passed so slowly, I felt stuck. I tried to be hopeful, but couldn't help but worry that the case would once again be thrown out and that he would never be held accountable for his actions. Then on December 17 2015 @ 1637 I received an email update from the investigating officer -

I am writing to update you on the CPS decision regarding our investigation. CPS have authorised charges against Mr NEAL for the offences committed against you and your brother. He will be informed and charged when he attends Milton Keynes Police Station in the New Year, subsequent court dates will follow. Please can you provide me with current contact phone numbers and any dates to avoid for court (holidays/hospital etc) so we can be fully prepared for a court trial.

I was at work when I read this and had to leave the office very quickly so as not to make a scene because I was so completely overwhelmed with emotion. They believed us.

Mick answered bail on January 21st 2016 and was then charged and re-bailed pending court action. The first court hearing was at Milton Keynes Magistrates Court on February 23 2016 and I took the day off work so I could go. I needed him to see that I wasn't a little girl anymore and that he was no longer the one in control.

Written February 23 2016

I recognised him as soon as he walked through the door of the Magistrates Court, even though I hadn’t seen him for 23 years and he had his back to me and was about 50m away, he is etched so deeply into my memories that I just knew it was him.

I started him straight in the eyes as he made his way towards us but he didn’t seem to recognise me at all. He sat on a bench a few meters away. I kept staring until I was sure he recognised me and admittedly felt a sense of achievement for making him see I wasn’t scared of him. A quick visit to the toilets made me realise that with my hair down and straightened it looked as if I was hiding so I quickly tied it back before returning to my seat. I was not then, and am not now, afraid of him.

What I am afraid of is being forced to release the buried emotions that reach back right through my childhood and into infancy as I have never been able to process them and honestly don’t know how to. How could any child be expected to process the emotions associated with abuse of that nature? Not being safe with the people who were supposed to protect them, being deliberately hurt by the people who claimed to love them, being so confused by having to live with adult feelings and sensations at such a young age.

Another massive stress to deal with that day was the sudden appearance of mother who I cut ties with in 2000. Why was she suddenly acting like she cared now when she was so happy to turn a blind eye back then? I saw her as soon as she appeared outside the court and quickly made my way to the far end of the building in the hope that she would just go away, but no such luck. She made her way to where I was sitting and put herself right in my personal space, not speaking but just standing there waiting to be acknowledged. I didn't look up at all, not because she scared me, but because I knew if I looked her in the eye I would never be able to contain the intense anger I felt at her deliberate acts of betrayal and multiple failures to protect me. She never scared me, but the rage I felt for her did scare me; what I was capable of doing to her scared me. I scared me.

As she continued to stand there, I stayed focused on my phone. Facebook was the most important thing in my life at that moment. Then she spoke. "I was talking you Tony and he thought it would be a good idea for me to come and support you today, but if I'm not wanted then I will leave". I knew she was lying as there's no way Tony would have said that. Still focusing on my phone, I calmly and clearly told her that she was not wanted, then she walked away. What the hell was she playing at? I needed her support when I was a child, crying and screaming and asking her to help me, begging her not to send me back to Mick's flat to suffer more abuse. Where was her support at those times?

The first Crown Court hearing was in March 2016 and this was his plea hearing. I sat in the public gallery in Aylesbury Crown Court feeling numb and trying not to cry as the various charges were read out and he said "not guilty" to every single one.

Various hearings and adjournments followed, the Crown (Prosecution) never seemed to be able to complete reports on time. Eventually it was suggested for the trial to start was June 20 2016, with a pre-trial hearing a month before to confirm both sides were ready to proceed. When we got to the May hearing, it was once again adjourned but this time because there was the possibility of an additional witness the police were talking to and wanted more time to work with. We were given the trial commencement date of September 5 2016, finally it was happening.

Shortly before I was to leave the house on the day the trial was starting, I received a phone call from the support worker who was helping me through the whole process. She had the unpleasant job of informing me that once again, everything had fallen through and the trial wasn't going ahead. Apparently Mick hadn't arrived at court and his defence team was trying to claim he was unfit to attend court. Over the next few months we had more hearings and more adjournments, and late reports, and legal professionals not meeting the deadlines set by the court, until eventually we were told that Mick would not be standing trial as medical evidence suggested he was in the early stages of dementia and couldn't remember what had happened. I know he remembered what he did because he could not look me in the eye. They said he couldn't be put on trial as he was vulnerable and needed to be looked after. HE WAS VULNERABLE!? What about us? We were vulnerable, who looked after us?

We did eventually get to trial, in March 2017, and it was a full trial with a jury who had to listen to the evidence as normal, but without Mick giving any evidence in his defence. I was the first witness and during cross-examination was asked if I had told anyone about the abuse at the time. Yes, I told mother. "How did she react?" My instinctive reaction to that question prompted the judge to ask me to explain in more details so I told the court about when I was seven and had been kicking and screaming begging her not to make me go to Mick's flat to buy rabbit food. "Well if you don't go your rabbit will starve" - so I had to go. I got through cross-examination without breaking down, but as soon as I was off the stand I collapsed into the arms of the very good friend who was there to support me and couldn't stop shaking and crying.

After my evidence I stayed in the public gallery as I wanted to follow the rest of the trial, and next it was Tony's video evidence. This was the first time I had heard any graphic details of what Mick had done to him as it wasn't something we had ever discussed. Despite the obvious differences in our genders, the details of the abuse were alarmingly similar. During Tony's video he was asked why he had kept going to see Mick when these things were happening, his response struck me cold and sent shivers right through me as I had said the exact same thing just a short time earlier during my time on the stand - it was the only love / affection that was available because there wasn't any at home. When Tony said this I gasped out loud and, I'm told, this caused several of the jury members to look over to me to see the hearing effect those words had had on me.

Tony was cross-examined the next day and although I was unable to be there due to my work, we spoke on the phone when he was finished and making his way home.

The other witness in the case had been told they didn't need to attend court as their statement would be read out in court and taken as fact, due to the situation with the trial. That witness was mother, and her statement not only confirmed that she had known about the abuse all along yet did nothing to stop it, but also detailed the very same rabbit food incident I had detailed during my evidence.

After a very brief deliberation the jury found that Michael Henry Neal, known locally as just Mick, or Big Mick by some, had committed all of the acts of abuse he stood accused of and court was adjourned for a sentencing hearing on April 27 2017.

Sentencing was a joke to be honest, twelve month supervision order and five years on the sex offenders register, while Tony and I basically have life sentences after what he did to us, and we weren't the ones at fault.

But still, at least now we can tell people the truth about what Mick Neal is like, and Mick himself knows he didn't get away with it after all. He also knows that all those years ago when I told him I would report him, I meant it and I followed through with it, even though he laughed at the time.

See the Chat magazine article HERE

The UK Database entry can be seen HERE

The Milton Keynes Citizen article can be seen HERE