Sex attacker who abused teenage boy for five years appears in wedding photo on his victim’s big day
This is the moment a child sex abuser stands just feet away from the man he molested over five years while he was a teenager, smiling with other guests on his victim’s wedding day.
Now 30 years later, Richard Lancaster, 60, has been jailed for ten years.
He was found guilty of 12 sex assault charges at Chelmsford Crown Court, Essex, last Monday.
Victim Dave Gipps, 53, this week came forward to speak about the abuse he endured by close family friend Lancaster, which started when he was just 13.
Lancaster, a forklift engineer, was popular in Mr Gipp’s hometown because he drove a motorbike and would take the children on their street for a ride.
Mr Gipps said: ‘He had a big motorbike, we all love motorbikes and as kids we used to play football on the street, so that’s how we met.’
He recalled he first turned to Lancaster, then aged 20, as an older friend while his parents went through a divorce.
Lancaster would drive him around Mr Gipps’ hometown in Chigwell, Essex, on his motorbike and treat him to gifts and cuddles.
He said: ‘I thought I’d be sad when I looked at those pictures from my wedding day, but actually I’m happy.
‘Now I know that I’ve put him behind bars and he can’t do that to anyone else ever again.
‘I can show it to people now and say ‘this is the man who abused me, he’s got ten years’.’
Mr Gipps said: ‘After that, it would happen three or four times a week. He would take me to a bedroom and have his wicked way while my parents were at home, oblivious that any of this was happening.’
Speaking of the moment she found out, 10 years after the wedding day, wife Christine, 54, added: ‘I was absolutely sickened to now know what Richard, our family friend, had been doing to him all those years.
‘I never had a clue Dave had a dark past. Richard did a lot for him and I thought he was a genuine good friend.
‘When I found out I was so shocked. I burst out crying. It was so horrible.
‘It makes me angry he came to my wedding, that I stood in the same room with him and posed for pictures at our wedding. It sickens me.’
Mr Gipps told how he became so confused by what was going on, he spiraled into depression and at just 14-years-old, attempted to slit his wrists in Lancaster’s bathroom.
He said: ‘I think it was a call for help but I went into Richard’s bathroom and made three cuts with a razor on my arm.
‘I was just too terrified to tell anyone. It was like I had two lives, one life with him and one life apart.’
The abuse continued for five years, but by 1980 when Dave was about to turn 18, it ended.
He said: ‘I think it ended because I was becoming of age.’
‘The reality is I had no idea what he’d been doing to me was abuse, I didn’t understand what sex was.
‘I saw him as a father figure and trusted him. Looking back I can see I was very messed up.’
The same year his five-year ordeal ended Dave met Christine at her sister’s 21st birthday party and the pair fell instantly in love.
‘Richard never let me mix with girls or women,’ he recalled, ‘so when I met Christine I felt like I was finally getting a chance at a normal life.’
Mr Gipps’ relationship with Mrs Gipps went from strength to strength and the pair decided to tie the knot in 1986, and even invited Lancaster as a guest.
He never thought about telling Christine about the abuse as he refused to even let it enter his mind for a second.
Mr Gipps said: ‘Richard was still a friend who had done a lot for me and I never thought I shouldn’t invite him to my wedding.’
When their big day came, Lancaster stood for photos with Dave and Christine – a constant reminder in print of the dark past Dave had left behind him.
Mr Gipps and Lancaster lost touch the following year as Christine and Dave prepared to welcome their first daughter Leah into the world.
Lancaster had a wife, who he later divorced, as well as three children of his own.
But it wasn’t until 2007, 31 years after the abuse began did Mr Gipps realise he’d been a child victim in a serious sex crime.
He was sitting in his black cab at Heathrow Airport when the penny dropped.
He said: ‘I was just thinking there taking stock of my life when I realised I’d been brainwashed into never admitting that I’d been abused.’
He was married with two daughters Leah, now 29, and Amy, 25, and two grandchildren before he decided to reveal what had happened to him.
He said: ‘When I told Christine and the girls, they were so shocked that they just broke into tears.
‘It was so hard to watch but I knew it was the right thing to do. I had spent a few months going off the rails while I came to terms with what happened to me.
‘I was brainwashed by Richard to believe what we were doing was okay and when it dawned on me I absolutely hated myself.’
Mr Gipps had always pushed his thoughts to one side when it came to Lancaster.
He said: ‘All the life with him and all the the sex was secret, I found it very easy to put that in the back of my mind and ignore it ever happened.’
But the father-of-two decided to go to the police in 2010, but there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute him until 2015.
Lancaster denied the allegations against him but was found guilty to 12 charges at Chelmsford Crown Court last Monday.
He was found guilty of nine counts of indecent assault on a male, two counts of buggery and one count of gross indecency of a boy under 16.
He was also ordered to sign the sex offender’s register indefinitely and was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Mr Gipps said: ‘I feel like I’ve finally got justice after 40 years since this all began.
‘Richard ruined my childhood by subjecting me to all that horror, and it’s ruined my adulthood too.
‘I’ve finally got my life back and I am so relieved to be able to move on.’
Mr Gipps is now desperate for people to know the real Lancaster and what he was subjected to in case anyone else fell victim to a similar crime.
He said: ‘I want everyone to know him to know what he’s been like.
‘There may be other victims out there and I want them to know it’s okay to come forward.’
Mrs Gipps, also delighted by the result, said: ‘We’re over the moon, justice has been served. It’s been hard, but we got through.’
The couple, who celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary last month, are hoping they can finally move forward now.
‘I don’t blame anyone for what happened to me except vile Lancaster,’ explained Mr Gipps. ‘He may have robbed me of my childhood, but he won’t take my future.’