Katherine Boswell, 40, from Blackwood, Gwent, explains why her vile step-dad deserves to rot in Hell...
Dark, cold eyes glared as another swipe from the fishing rod crashed onto my bare bottom… THWACK!
I knew crying out would only make the strikes harder…
Parents should protect, love and comfort you. But my childhood was filled with fear.
My mum Patricia Davies, then 31, split with my dad when I was 3. Then, when I was 5, my older brother and I lived with her and my stepdad Howard John Davies, 42.
I hoped he’d like me. But Howard was a violent brute.
Just days after we moved in, Mum was in the kitchen when Howard beckoned me over to the sofa. Suddenly, he shoved his hand hard between my legs.
I froze in fear, confused.
Then, several days later, I was crying – but, rather than comfort me, he jabbed my eye with a cigarette.
‘Shut up!’ he bellowed.
Shocked, I quickly stopped crying, learned it didn’t help.
Mum just thought I was acting up, so she told me off.
Frightened, I was completely under Howard’s control. Some nights I’d wake to him hunched over my bed, masturbating. Others, his vile hands would probe my private parts.
Scared stiff, confused and repulsed, I’d shut my eyes, pray he’d stop. But the abuse got worse.
Whenever he’d a chance to touch me, he’d take it – at his allotment, on fishing trips.
Never knowing anything different, I didn’t dare question him. Besides, if I resisted, he would beat me with a fishing rod or belt. Soon, I complied, rather than endure the beatings.
Then Mum and Howard had twin girls. After that, me and my brother were left out – we never got presents, we’d have to wear second-hand clothes that didn’t fit, we were scruffy and smelly.
Schoolkids picked on me, but I kept quiet. The bullying didn’t compare to the torture at home.
When the twins were 18 months old, they began sharing my double bed.
‘Sleep on the outside, so they won’t fall out,’ Howard ordered.
It was so he could get to me. The pervert would creep in most nights as his daughters lay beside me, and force me to perform oral sex on him.
It was a living nightmare.
When Mum had another daughter with Howard, she was kept busy, so he had me to himself.
‘Keep your mouth shut, or you’ll split the family up,’ Howard threatened me.
I couldn’t confide in Mum, couldn’t escape from Howard…
Eventually, my brother moved out, and we lost touch. I was desperate to leave, too, as the abuse continued.
Howard would keep me up after the others were in bed, then he’d rape me in the living room.
It was all I’d ever known. Messed up, I thought all families were like this.
I was now 16, studying Business at sixth-form college, I met new people, made new friends – we’d even go clothes shopping together. It was a whole new world. Slowly, it dawned on me… My world was not ‘the norm’. Far from it.
I rebelled, started smoking and drinking.
Howard had kept a strict curfew, insisted on picking me up after college. Now, if I was out, he’d trawl the streets looking for me.
‘Don’t even look at other boys,’ he’d seethe…
Howard was jealous, twisted, saw me as his possession. But he was losing his grip on me, and, as long as I kept avoiding him, the abuse finally stopped.
At 18, I moved out. And, in January 1997, I had my first son. But, soon after, I split with his dad.
Living in my own council house, I was coping OK as a single mum.
That September, a friend and I ran into Matt Smart, then 20. He’d been in the year below me at school, although we’d never spoken. But he remembered me.
‘You’d gorgeous hair, like Nicole Kidman,’ he said, confessing he’d fancied me. I was flattered.
Soon an item, Matt’s love saved me. He knew I’d been abused, but I never discussed Howard’s depraved acts – the truth was too awful.
At first, I didn’t enjoy sex, it’d give me flashbacks. But Matt was patient, kind. Slowly, I grew to trust him.
Then, in 1999, I got a call saying Mum had died. She’d an undiagnosed heart condition, and passed away in her sleep.
Upset, I attended her funeral. But after, I was relieved I never had to see that pervert Howard Davies again. I loathed him.
I was determined to take his vile abuse to my grave.
In time, Matt and I had two kids of our own – a son and a daughter. I loved being a mum, convinced myself I’d moved on.
Until, in June 2015, at the GP’s surgery, I bumped into my half-sister. Harrowing memories flooded back, and I hurried away to the pharmacy to collect my prescription. Only, I ran into another old face from our neighbourhood.
‘I saw your father yesterday,’ he said casually.
‘He’s not my father,’ I replied, through gritted teeth, bile rising.
Then I rushed back to the car, where I had a panic attack.
I can’t do this any more, I thought. Howard Davies wasn’t my dad. He was a monster.
That night, I broke down to Matt.
‘I’m going to the police,’ I said.
‘I’ll support you,’ he promised.
Next morning, at Blackwood Police Station, I reported the countless rapes, assaults and beatings…
‘I never knew how bad it was. I’m so sorry,’ Matt wept.
Days on, I gave a six-hour video statement, as more than 30 years of torment poured out.
After, though, I felt I was taking back control.
When police arrested Davies in December 2015, he denied it all.
By then 78, former council worker Howard Davies was charged with 27 counts of indecent assault, including rape and attempted rape.
During the three-week trial at Newport Crown Court in January, I took the stand behind a screen.
Cross-examined for a full day, it was stressful, but worth it. Thankfully, the jury saw through Davies’ lies, and found him guilty of 19 charges, including indecent assault, attempted rape and rape.
In February, I attended Cardiff Crown Court for his sentencing. There, I laid eyes on him for the first time in 18 years. He’d bedraggled grey hair, but the disgusting smirk on his face hadn’t changed.
He didn’t even flinch as the judge handed him 18 years.
‘Justice!’ I breathed.
That pig destroyed my life. The mental wounds will always haunt me.
Now, I’ve got closure. My only regret is I didn’t report it sooner. As far as I’m concerned, Davies can rot in Hell.
Howard John Davies is appealing his conviction.