A tormented mum says it felt like her “heart was ripped out” when her 11-year-old daughter told her she had been sexually assaulted by a man.
The heartbreaking moment came on the same day that the girl’s attacker was arrested and eventually led to both mum and daughter having to give evidence in a harrowing trial.
After the “longest four days” of the mum’s life, a jury found Stanley Heames guilty of six counts of sexual assault on a girl under the age of 13 and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The 33-year-old, of Chamberlain’s Green, Coundon, Coventry was jailed for six years at Warwick Crown Court and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.
The first the family knew of Heames’ crimes was when the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suddenly opened up to her mum – on the same night as Heames’ arrest.
Recalling how she felt when her daughter revealed the shocking news, the mum said: “It was like somebody punched me in the stomach and my heart was ripped out of my body.
“We were having a chat about growing up and she just came out with it.
“It was like it was her opening to tell me.”
The revelation left the mum in shock: “I couldn’t go to work anymore and didn’t do anything,” she said.
“I just slept and can’t actually recall some times in between.”
Following Heames’ denial of the crimes, a four-day trial took place at Warwick Crown Court in September.
The mum described it as the “longest four days of my life” and said that after giving her evidence, she couldn’t bring herself to return to court.
She said: “It was a relief when he was charged, but the trial was awful and I had to give evidence and so did [the daughter] via videolink.”
The young victim’s grandmother continued to attend court and said that when the guilty verdict was read out “everyone was in tears and hugging”.
The grandmother called the girl’s mum – her own daughter – to tell her the news of the verdict and the mum “just cried”.
Heames was jailed for six years and also handed a restraining order by the court.
Speaking of the sentence, the grandmother said: “We were quite pleased as he has his label now and is on the [sex offenders’] register for life.”
The mum added: “I was never bothered by the sentence – I just wanted that jury to know that my little girl was telling the truth.”
With Heames now behind bars, the family are doing their best to put the horrid chapter behind them and move forward.
However, the attacks on the 11-year-old have had a traumatic effect on them all.
The victim’s grandmother said: “She was very quiet to start with and one of the telltale signs now is when she goes to bed at night she has to have some noise.
“She gets distressed if it’s gone quiet.
“She can’t watch people kiss on the TV either.”
The mum also had this advice for all parents and carers of children of any age: “Encourage your child to speak and make time for them to open up to you.”
The family have been supported throughout the entire process by the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (Crasac) – and can’t thank them enough.
The mum said: “We’ve had a lot of support from Crasac – they are fantastic and gave us support from day dot right until now.
“They helped us through it all and prepared us [for the court case].”