June 2007


In May 2007, Already convicted child abuser Stephen Butler (pic above) was jailed for 12 years at Warrington Crown Court after pleading guilty to raping a minor.


In May 2004 Edward Whitfield (pictured above) pleaded guilty to abusing a child and was sentenced to three years in jail.

‘My blood ran cold as my real daddy told me he was just like the pervert who had been raping me for all those years ‘

Joanne Baker turned to her real dad for help after being repeatedly raped by her stepfather from the age of nine – and couldn’t believe it when HE turned out to be a sex beast too.

But despite her horrific double ordeal, the brave youngster eventually had the courage to tell police and make sure both monsters were jailed.

Joanne, now 19, said: “I was robbed of my innocence at nine years old by my stepfather.

“He abused me for years and made me want to kill myself. When I met my real dad I thought things would change and that he’d love me like a father should.

“When he began abusing me too it was like the worst nightmare. But now, at last, I’ve made them pay for what they did to me and can start to rebuild my life.”

Joanne has brushed aside the anonymity usually given to rape victims to make sure the world knows about her unimaginable ordeal at the hands of the two men supposed to protect her.

She told how she was a happy seven-year-old when stepdad Stephen Butler moved into her mum Helen’s home in Widnes, Cheshire.

She was unaware the hook-nosed pervert, now 40, had already served a two-year jail sentence for sexually assaulting a child.

Joanna said: “He would volunteer to read me stories in bed but while Mum was downstairs he would touch me under the duvet.”

Depraved Butler then escalated the abuse, taking Joanne’s virginity when she was just nine.

“I was in agony,” she sobbed, “But he tried to tell me it was normal. Mum thought I’d hurt myself riding my bike.

“I don’t know how many times he had sex with me but by the time I was 11, I just wanted to die.

“I swallowed a load of paracetamol tablets and had to go to hospital to have my stomach washed out. My mum had no idea why I did it and I didn’t tell anyone at the hospital.”

Butler had blackmailed Joanne to ensure her silence. “He got me hooked on fags,” she said. “When I wanted money for cigarettes I had to perform sex acts on him or let him do stuff to me.

“When I was older and needed things it was clear that if I co-operated, I got the money. He had me under his control.”

When Joanne was 13 she hoped her life would change for the better when she was introduced to her real dad, Edward Whitfield, now 42.

“He played darts in the same pub as Stephen,” explained Joanne.

“One day, my mum introduced us and told me: ‘This is your real dad’. I felt really excited and would speak to him whenever I saw him, trying to get to know him. He had a wife and kids – a real family I thought.

“When he asked me to babysit for my little brothers and sisters, I jumped at the chance.

“But when I was alone with him I soon started to feel uncomfortable. When I hugged Dad, he would make dirty remarks and say I was turning him on. I was watching TV once and he was peering down my top.

“Then one day he made some comment saying he was ‘like Stephen’ but had never done anything about it. My blood ran cold.”

In 2003, when Joanne was 15, her real father assaulted her at his home. She said: “I had been crying about something and he leaned over and put his arms around me.

“But instead of comforting me he began getting sexual. He lifted my top and touched and licked my breasts. I froze.

“I couldn’t believe it. He picked me up and carried me upstairs. I was like a rag doll.

“He put me on the bed and leaned over me. I kneed him in the chest but he just laughed and said: ‘I’m not going to rape you – I’m not that stupid.’ But he sexually assaulted me. I don’t know if he knew about what Stephen did to me, but it seemed a horrible coincidence.

“I begged him to let me go downstairs. I didn’t want to scream and upset my brothers and sisters.

“Later when Mum came to pick me up he whispered ‘I’m sorry about before’. I just felt numb.”

Joanne later plucked up courage and told her first boyfriend, four years older than her, what had happened.

He encouraged Joanne to tell her mum and stepdad. Unbelievably in the face of his own abuse, Butler went mad and threatened Whitfield.

Joanne said: “I knew they were both as sick as each other but I still didn’t know how to tell mum about my stepdad. I didn’t want to end up in care so I kept quiet.”

Joanne’s mother urged her to report Whitfield and she agreed.

In May 2004 he pleaded guilty to abusing her and was sentenced to three years in jail.

He will remain on licence until 2009 but is back home with his wife and children.

Joanne said: “I hoped it would show my stepdad that I was capable of shopping him to the police too.

“But nothing changed. The abuse went on. I started getting into trouble at school.”

Amazingly Joanne gained nine GCSEs. In a heart-breaking cry for help, Joanne wrote about her ordeal in her English exam when asked to recall an incident that made her sad.

“I dreamt that the examiners would come to rescue me,” says Joanne. “It never happened.”

In July 2004, Joanne’s mum got married to Butler and asked her to be a bridesmaid.

“It was one of the worse days of my life,” she said. “But I forced a smile for the cameras.”

Joanne split from her boyfriend and later fell for another man, Martin, who is 15 years older.

She accepts he may have been the father figure she was looking for, and he helped her find the courage to bring her stepdad to justice.

She said: “Martin told me that he wanted honesty in our relationship and, after a lifetime of lies, so did I.

“I told him everything – about my real dad and my step-dad.

“He said I needed to expose Stephen in the same way I had with my dad.”

Last November Joanne contacted the police.

“I had a great woman police officer to speak to and everyone was on my side,” she said.

“We all wanted the same thing – to get my stepdad locked up away from kids. I discovered he had served two years when he was younger and that didn’t teach him anything. He just made me his next target.

“My mum stuck by Stephen. I was told that it wasn’t unusual but I think that this is part of the reason why people in my position don’t come forward.

“But even if I had ended up homeless on the streets, I would not have had regrets.

“You’re not just saving yourself – you’re stopping more children from having their lives ruined.”

Joanne was delighted last month when Butler was jailed for 12 years at Warrington Crown Court after pleading guilty to raping a minor.

But she said: “It still doesn’t seem enough. I lost my innocence, my childhood because of him.”