Stoke Newington child abuse trial: Victim opens up about ordeal that ruined his life

Valerie and Roy Stannard arriving at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Valerie and Roy Stannard arriving at Snaresbrook Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A child abuse survivor who brought his attackers to justice after 48 years is finally able to talk about the ordeal that destroyed his life.

Valerie Stannard, 73, and her husband Roy, 74, face jail after being convicted on Friday of 18 counts of child abuse and indecent assault while they lived in Stoke Newington.

The charges date from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and relate to five victims, all under 16 at the time. One of them was sexually abused by Roy.

Another, now 60, said he was finally “strong enough” to tell the police three years ago.

During a four-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, he broke down twice while giving evidence by video link, and later bravely sat in the public gallery. But after almost five decades, he still couldn’t bring himself to look at the elderly defendants.

“I still feel the same. There’s no change,” he told the Gazette. “I’ve been scarred for life. They’ve done too much damage and I’ve got to live with it.

“I’ve been trying for a long time to speak about it but every time I wanted to I wasn’t strong enough. But [in 2014] my psychiatrist said I was as strong as I was ever going to be.

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“I just wanted to get justice – that’s all I wanted.”

In his evidence, he told jurors how Valerie would hit him with “the nearest thing” available to her.

“She’d get me on the floor and punch into me,” he said. “[Once] I had soap in my mouth because I swore. It got jammed in my throat. I thought I was going to die.”

When prosecutor Sally Hales asked why she had abused him, he said: “She’s just a lunatic.”

The victim also described how on one occasion Valerie had shoved newspaper down his trousers and lit it.

When asked by Ms Hales how else he was hurt by Valerie, he added: “She gave me a mental illness.”

He also told the court how Roy regularly beat him up and on one occasion hung him on the back of a door with a coat hanger, causing him to choke.

The abuse left him with serious mental health problems that led to him taking an overdose and getting in trouble with police.

“I was beaten so much it stopped my learning to read and write,” he said. “I can’t even sleep in the dark.

“I was still getting abuse [from others] when I was an adult. When I fought back I got in trouble – it was all my anger coming out. I think I was doing it to try and get help, by getting in trouble with the police.”

It also affected his ability to hold down a job or a relationship, and caused him to be cruel to his two kids.

“It makes me horrible to them and makes them not want to know me,” he said. “I can’t bring up a child, social services said it.”

The victim is hoping seeing the Stannards go to jail will cure some of the anger he felt towards them and help him rebuild broken relationships.

“I can’t believe she [Valerie] got away with it for all these years,” he said. “I want them to rot in prison.”

Roy was also found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.

He had asked a girl, when she was 11, if he could “touch her”, before groping her and rubbing his penis on her back. He also asked her to masturbate him.

He was convicted of three further counts of cruelty to a child under 16 but cleared of three more relating to indecent assault on a boy under 14.

During cross-examination, he had told the court: “It was a very different time back then. If you gave cheek, you got a clip around the ear.”

Valerie was found guilty of nine counts of cruelty to a person under 16 and cleared of one count of the same charge.

The Stannards, of Barge Lane, Bow, had denied everything. They will be sentenced on May 4.