Brave survivor speaks out after abuser avoids prison
A woman who was sexually assaulted as a child by a man who was a “pillar of the community” has won her incredible 28 year battle to bring him to justice.
Allie Short, 41, has waived her right to anonimity to warn other people about Michael Henry Neal, who is now 81.
She first battled to get “evil” Neal convicted when she was just 13, and bravely confessed to police that the popular Bletchley children’s centre worker, known to all as Big Mick, had been indecently assaulting her and her brother since they were very small.
“I told them everything, but nothing happened because it was my word against his,” she said.
A couple of years ago, backed by brother Tony and still mentally scarred by her past, Allie went back to local police. This time they treated her very differently.
A successful investigation led by detective Miranda Moore has now resulted in Neal being found guilty of 13 charges of indecently assaulting Allie and Tony in the 1970s and 1980s.
All of the assaults took place on the Lakes Estate, when Neal was the handyman at the Warren children’s centre.
Now living in MK sheltered housing and deemed unfit to plea, he was sentenced to a supervision order banning contact with children.
“At last we’ve seen justice done. But this man ruined my life and I want everyone to know about him. He was like the Pied Piper with children – I can’t believe we were his only victims,” said Allie.
Did you tell any adults at the time that Neal was indecently assaulting you?
Allie: “I told my mum, but I don’t think she believed me that ‘Big Mick’ could do anything so bad. He was a real pillar of the community on the Lakes Estate in those days, and everywhere he went he was surrounded by children. The adults all thought he was wonderful.”
What effect have the assaults had upon your life?
Allie: “As a teenager I was a mess and had loads of psychological problems and trust issues. By the time I reached my mid twenties, I thought ‘sod him, I am going to have a life’. I managed to find work, settle down and now I’m finally in a long term-relationship. But the memories have always been there, lurking in the background.”
Why have you waived your anonymity to speak out in this case?
Allie: “I want others to know what this man was really like and how he groomed me. If I’m brave enough to come forward and tell my story, then other victims of sexual assaults might find courage to go to the police rather than suffer in silence.
How did the police react when you told them about the events of 28 years ago?
Milton Keynes police were brilliant. I was worried I wouldn’t be taken seriously again but they really listened to myself and my brother. Detective Miranda Moore was really great.”