Victim speaks after former stepdad is jailed

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A woman has spoken about suffering years of sexual abuse at the hands of her former stepfather after he was jailed for 15 years.

Charlene Smart has waived her right to lifelong anonymity to tell the story which led to Andrew Lapsley being convicted of a string of offences against her.

Lapsley was convicted of a total of 13 charges – seven charges of rape, four of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child – at Northampton Crown Court in March.

Charlene’s mother Lesley Sibley, 51, of Kettering, was jailed for two years after being convicted of one charge of cruelty to her daughter when she was a child.

Lapsley’s offences took place over several years in the early 1990s.

The court heard that Lapsley, 49, formerly of Kettering, but who was living outside the county at the time of his court appearances, had pleaded guilty to abusing Charlene in 1991.

Sentencing the pair, Recorder William Harbage QC told Lapsley: “This was systematic abuse.

“This was a gross breach of trust.”

Charlene, now 31, said while she could never completely move on from the abuse, Lapsley’s convictions had helped give her some closure and justice.

She said: “I don’t think I will ever move on completely, I will still live with it because I have lost so much because of it.

“I do feel like there’s some closure there.”

Charlene said going to court and giving evidence in the case had felt surreal. She was due to appear in the witness box behind a screen but decided to go ahead without the screen after seeing Sibley and Lapsley on the morning the trial began.

During the trial, Charlene told the jury that there were many occasions when Lapsley would touch her and she would have to touch him back, but she didn’t protest as “it was just my life”.

Charlene said she was shocked when the verdicts were delivered after the emotional week-long trial.

She said: “It was just so surreal. I did cry when I got home, I couldn’t believe it.

“Every time they said ‘guilty’ I thought, is somebody winding me up here?”

But Charlene said the case was not about getting back at her former stepfather.

She said: “It’s not been about revenge, it’s just been about justice.

“It’s about making sure the example is set because nobody should ever do that to a child. Instantly, that childhood is gone and instantly you have taken them into a whole new life.”

Charlene is now looking to write a book about her life and is looking for a ghost writer to support her.