My Uncle Jailed 20 Years After Raping Me

Julie Smith, 39, Edinburgh

Aged 18, I felt like I had the world at my feet.
I’d just finished school, had been accepted on a course to study hairdressing.
And that summer, my aunt Linda asked me to come and work at her ice cream and hamburger kiosk by the seaside in Newcastle.

It felt like the start of a big adventure.

Arriving, I made myself at home with Linda, her husband Andrew Robinson and daughter Sarah, 15.
‘Hope you don’t mind me sharing,’ I said, unpacking in her room.
‘It’ll be fun!’ she said.

I was going to enjoy my first summer away from home.
Andrew seemed OK but when he wasn’t at work fixing and selling cars, he was at the pub, so it was often just us girls in the house.
We had a giggle.

Then, one weekend, Sarah went to stay with her dad so I had our bedroom to myself.
I woke in the night to feel a hand over my mouth.
Uncle Andrew.

I froze as his other hand reached under the covers and he started touching me.
My aunt was in the room next door but terror silenced me.
I couldn’t scream.

Even as Andrew raped me, I was too scared to make a sound.

Afterwards, he just left the room and joined my aunt in bed without saying a word.
Left alone, frightened and in pain, I suddenly felt a long way from home.
The following morning I was too terrified to get out of bed.

‘Come on, darling, I’ll make you some toast,’ Auntie Linda said.
I longed to tell her.

But I was in shock and I didn’t want to cause any trouble.
So I said nothing.

I got in the shower and tried to scrub away the memory of the rape.

But from that day on, the world was a different place to me. All the excitement I’d felt about the future was gone.
I carried on working with Linda until the end of summer.
Andrew made my life a misery the whole time.

One day, he came up to me at the kiosk where I was working on my own.
‘Your aunt won’t believe you,’ he hissed. ‘You better keep things to yourself.’
He made me feel physically sick.

I spent one of my last days working in the ice cream kiosk doubled over with stomach pains.
All I wanted was to get home.
Finally summer ended.

On the way back home, relief flooded through me when I saw a Welcome to Edinburgh sign.
It was over. Or so I thought.

I couldn’t forget the rape. And the stomach pains got worse.
Eventually, I went alone to the A&E.

As I waited to be seen, I started losing blood and screamed.
‘I’m sorry, you’ve miscarried,’ the doctor told me.
I’d been eight weeks pregnant – by Andrew.
How much more horror could I take.
I didn’t breathe a word of it to Mum and Dad. Instead, I vowed to put the entire ordeal behind me.
Only I struggled with depression and anxiety, couldn’t stick to anything.
I soon gave up the hairdressing course I’d been so keen to complete.
‘Why?’ Mum asked, worried.
I shrugged.
Age 20, I met a man and we went on to have a son and a daughter.
He was so kind, but our relationship didn’t last.

A few months after our split, I met Mark and we married a year later, in 2010.
We had a little boy, but despite being blissfully in love, I couldn’t bring myself to tell him what Andrew Robinson had done to me.
Still too traumatised and ashamed.

In 2014, Mark was working in Dubai when a cousin from Newcastle came to stay with me.
Over a meal, she told me the shocking news.

‘Linda has gone to the police about Andrew,’ she said. ‘She said he raped her.’
Hearing that, I burst into tears.

‘I know it’s true,’ I said and quickly made my excuses.
The following day Linda called me.

‘It happened to me too,’ I told her, crying. ‘That summer I came to stay.’
She phoned the officers investigating the case.
‘I’ll make a statement,’ I said when they visited.

But even almost two decades on, reliving what Andrew had done was agony.
Eventually, one of the officers called Mark in Dubai and asked him to come home.
He got on the next flight, couldn’t have been more supportive when I finally shared my secret.
Andrew Robinson was arrested and following delays, he eventually pleaded guilty to two charges of rape – one of them against me, the other against Linda – and one indecent assault on a 13-year-old girl.

Knowing he’d hurt another girl was heartbreaking.
Andrew was bailed before sentencing and I was petrified.
He wasn’t allowed to contact me. But out and about I’d become convinced I’d seen him and rush home, locking all the doors and windows.
I just wanted it to be over.

But then, on the day of sentencing, in November 2016, Andrew Robinson, 66, didn’t show up to court.
My rapist was on the run.

‘He’s coming to find me to get revenge,’ I panicked.

I was in such a state I was sedated by doctors.

Meanwhile, police launched a manhunt for Andrew.
I barely slept until he was finally rearrested four days later.
Mark attended Newcastle Crown Court with me to see Andrew Robinson being sentenced to a total of 17 years.
‘It’s finally over,’ I said to Linda afterwards.

That man had hurt us both, as well as a poor teenage girl.
But now he was behind bars.

I won’t pretend life’s easy. I have flashbacks and still see Andrew’s face everywhere.
But Mark has been amazing and I’ve got three wonderful kids.
I’m determined to put my life back together.

I can’t let the actions of one wicked man during one dreadful summer destroy my life forever.