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Our Christmas night out turned to horror

Naomi was raped by a man that just hours earlier she and her sister had been dancing to xmas songs with. Carolyn was wracked with guilt for not helping Naomi after mistaking her muffled moans in the next room for something else.

Finally Naomi’s rapist was jailed, but Naomi was left hating Christmas and distraught at her sister’s guilt for not helping.

The sisters remained closer than ever, so when Naomi fell gravely ill and needed an urgent kidney transplant, Carolyn seized the opportunity to help. Just before Xmas last year she saved her sister’s life.

Now Naomi has been reminded how precious life is and is going to enjoy every second – even Xmas. And thanks to her gift of life Carolyn at last feels she’s given something back to her sister….

We pushed open the door of The Prince Of Wales. Inside, the pub was bustling, Slade pumping out of the speakers to let punters know Christmas was just around the corner.

‘Right,’ I said to my sister Naomi. ‘What are you having?’

It was December 2004 and we were on an impromptu night out. Namoi’s youngest was away for the night so we’d taken advantage of a Christmas night out and jumped on the train to Cardiff.

As we drank our vodka and lemonade, I felt someone looking at us. A friendly-looking guy in his thirties.

‘On your own ladies?’ he asked, coming over.

We got talking. Jonathon told us he was waiting for his friend. He seemed like a nice guy. Finishing our drinks, we told him we were off to Flairs nightclub for a dance.

‘Have a good night!’ he said as we shrugged on our coats.

‘You too,’ we said politely.

Only later, as we stood on the balcony in the club, we bumped into Jonathon again. And he was still on his own.

‘Been stood up?’ we joked as we again starting talking.

Jonathon told us he was a lawyer – ‘a bloody good one, too’ – and a father-of-two.

‘Fancy a dance?’ he said as the DJ lined up cheesy Christmas songs.

‘Go on then,’ Naomi said.

In the end we spent the whole evening dancing along to Christmas party tunes with him. He was a good laugh and it was obvious he liked Naomi but she wasn’t interested.

Suddenly, Naomi said she wasn’t feeling so good.

‘This vodka tastes weird,’ she said, pushing it away.

We decided to go and wait outside. A friend of ours was working in Cardiff and he’d offered to give us a lift home at half-past one.

‘I’ll wait with you until he arrives,’ Jonathon said gallantly. ‘Make sure you get home safely.’

But come two o’clock there was still no sign of our lift. He wasn’t answering his mobile either.

‘Maybe he’s fallen asleep,’ I sighed.

‘What are we going to do now?’ Naomi panicked. A taxi back to Porth was far too expensive and it was too far to walk.

‘You can stay at mine if you like,’ Jonathon said. ‘I don’t live far from here and I can drive you back home in the morning.’

‘What do you think?’ Naomi said.

‘We haven’t got much choice,’ I replied. ‘I’d never do it on my own but there’s the two of us.’

Plus Jonathon was a lawyer and a father-of-two.

‘OK, thanks,’ we said, grateful to have found such a genuine guy.

We jumped in a taxi. As we drove to Heath the driver had to stop for Naomi to throw up.

‘I feel terrible,’ she said.

It wasn’t like her to be sick. We hadn’t drunk that much.

As we pulled up outside the neat three-bed semi I noticed a pair of work boots by the front door. Funny shoes for a lawyer, I thought. He must have a lodger.

Inside, the house was spotless.

‘Nice house,’ I said.

‘That’s what being a top lawyer gets you,’ Jonathon said proudly.

He made us both a cup of tea. On the side was a dictaphone he said he used at work.

Naomi drank her tea but I left mine to cool. Within minutes she was fast asleep on the settee.

‘I’m tired too,’ I said.

‘You can have the room opposite the bathroom,’ Johnathon said.

Kicking off my boots I went upstairs, undressed and got into bed. I was out like a light.

I didn’t hear the door but suddenly, I was aware that someone was climbing into bed beside me. It was Jonathon. And he was naked.
I shot up in bed.

‘What are you doing? I cried. It’s not me you fancy, it’s my sister. Get the Hell out of here!’

He slunk out of the room.

‘Cheeky git!’ I thought to myself. After Naomi had fallen asleep he obviously thought it was worth a try with me.

I snuggled under the covers. A little while later, I woke up, vaguely aware of someone saying: ‘No, no, no!’…

‘No, no, no!’

There it was again. Was it Naomi? I wondered. But no, she was downstairs and this noise was coming from across the hallway. Had she come upstairs to see Jonathon…? In the end I decided not to pay it any attention. I’d got my fingers burnt before walking in on a friend and a man. I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. My eyes closed and I drifted back into sleep.

The next thing I knew, Naomi burst into the room.

‘I’ve been raped!’ she cried. ‘He’s going to murder us!’

I sat bolt upright in bed as she grabbed the chest of drawers and used it to barricade the door. Then she pulled out her mobile and called the police.

‘I’ve been raped,’ she told them.

But when they asked where we were, we didn’t know.

‘All I know is that we’re in the Heath area of Cardiff,’ she wailed. ‘Please, come quickly.’

Looking out of the window to try and describe the street, we could see John, now fully dressed, pacing the garden outside. He was also on the phone.

Minutes later, the police arrived. It was half-past three in the morning.

‘How did you find us?’ I asked.

They explained they’d found the house because Jonathan had been on the phone to them too – to tell the police we were about to falsely accuse him of rape.

The police took us to separate stations to be interviewed.

I don’t want to leave you,’ I said to Naomi.

Look what had happened the last time I’d left her…

‘Sorry, love,’ the policeman said as they took Naomi to Rhymney station, and myself to Fairwater. ‘That’s the rules.’

We spent the next 15 hours in the rape suites being interviewed. Naomi had swabs taken too. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Why, oh why had we gone back there? We’d thought he was a nice guy doing us a favour. He’d sounded like a good Samaritan. How wrong we’d been…

Eventually, our brother Colin came to pick us up.

Riding home in the car was the first time I had a chance to speak to Naomi. I listened numbly as my darling sister told me how she’d woken up alone in the lounge. Spotting my boots in the hall she knew I’d crashed out somewhere and followed me upstairs to find.

She found a room with an empty double bed in and taking off her scratchy sparkly top, crawled inside still wearing her jeans and fell fast asleep. When she woke up half an hour or so later a naked Jonathon was on top of her pulling her clothes off.

‘I was paralysed with fear as he pinned me to the bed and took of my jeans,’ she wept. ‘I kept pleading ‘No, no, no’ but he ignored me. He pulled my knickers down and raped me. My whole body felt heavy. I could only move my head and keep saying over…but he didn’t listen.’

My blood froze. That’s the muttering I’d heard. And I hadn’t done anything…

In a desperate to escape, Naomi had asked if she could go to the toilet. To her utter relief Jonathon had let her get up. But he followed her to the bathroom and tried to force her to perform oral sex on him. She

I was utterly distraught. I’d heard Naomi saying no, but as she wasn’t screaming or shouting, assumed she wasn’t in danger. Why hadn’t I got out of bed to check? I could have kicked myself.

‘It’s not your fault,’ Naomi told me. ‘You weren’t to know. You mustn’t blame yourself.’

But of course, I did. I was her sister. I should have protected her.

As we arrived at Naomi’s her sons Ceri, 17, and Josh, 13, ran out.

‘Where have you been, Mum?’ Ceri asked. ‘I’ve been worried.’

‘I’ve, er, been at Uncle Colin’s,’ she stuttered, looking in Josh’s direction.

I winced. Ever since his Dad had died Ceri had been very protective of his mum. He’d be devastated when Naomi told him the truth.

Those next two weeks were so hard. Colin and our sisters stayed close but no one really knew what to say.

‘It’s not your fault,’ they comforted. But deep down I couldn’t help thinking if only I’d got out of bed when I’d heard Naomi’s cries then this might never have happened…

We did our best to paint on a smile for the kids’ sake but every Christmas song made mine and Naomi’s skin crawl. They were tracks we’d danced to with Jonathon.

The only good thing was that the liaison officer had told us Jonathon had been arrested and would be kept on remand until the trial.

‘Some Merry Christmas, eh?’ Naomi sighed.

Finally, the following July, the trial started at Cardiff Crown Court. Naomi and I both attended with Colin.

We shuddered as the court was told that the accused’s name wasn’t Jonathon but plain old John Hawkey, 35, and instead of a lawyer he was a butcher and car dealer.

More lies, I thought to myself in disgust.

The jury listened as John said Naomi had consented to sex and he’d phoned the police when he suspected she was going to accuse him.
Only the court heard that he’d been wearing a condom when he got into bed with Naomi, and she was asleep so how could she ever have consented…?

Naomi took the stand first. She was pertrified but wanted the jury to hear her side of the story.

‘I’m so proud of you,’ I told her.

Then it was my turn. I told the jury exactly what had happened that winter’s night and how I could never, ever forgive myself for not helping my sister.

The court also heard how, at the time of the rape, John was already on bail for causing ABH to a previous partner. He’d also been convicted of biting off part of a man’s ear.

The judge called him devious and manipulative and said: ‘You knew you were about to be reported so you thought you’d get to the police first.’

After three days they reached a verdict. John was found guilty of rape and attempted rape for trying to force Naomi to perform oral sex. Dubbed the Good Samaritan rapist in press, he was jailed for five years and added a further three- year licence period after release.

Not nearly long enough for all we’d gone through, I thought.

And knowing he was safely locked up didn’t make life any easier for Naomi. Another Christmas passed, then another, and another. And each year, as soon as the tinsel went up, Naomi retreated.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘I’m just not in a festive mood.’

‘My fault,’ I tortured myself.

Her health was suffering too. Naomi had always had problems with repeated kidney infections and now it was getting worse.

Feeling unwell, in January 2009 she went to the doctors. Her blood pressure was sky high and she was rushed to Wales’ University Hospital in Heath – just streets away from where the attack took place.

There, biopsies revealed that Naomi’s kidneys were failing – fast. Already operating at just 11 per cent, she needed a transplant to live.

‘I’ll do it,’ I said.

Colin and I were both found to be good matches.

‘Let me do it,’ I begged him. Finally, I’d be able to do something to help Naomi.

So last September, Naomi and I went back to Heath together. This time, to rebuild Naomi’s life instead of destroy it.

Thankfully, Naomi’s operation was a success. Unfortunately, I suffered complications – my bowel twisted when they removed my kidney – and needed further surgery but two weeks later I was allowed home.

‘Thank you for everything,’ Naomi said when she came to see me.

‘I’m just glad I could finally do something to help you,’ I said. And God, I really meant it.

So this year, Christmas will be a real celebration again. That terrible night six years ago almost destroyed Naomi and myself. But coming so close to death has made us both realise just how precious life is and now we’re determined not to waste another second.