Dad who treated daughter like his wife is jailed for 20 years

Carol Higgins waived her right to anonymity.
Carol Higgins waived her right to anonymity.

A woman who survived years of sexual abuse from her father has spoken out after a 35-year fight for justice finally saw him jailed.

Carol Higgins from Ackworth waived her right to lifelong anonymity to help expose Elliott Appleyard who treated her ‘like his wife’ when she was a young teenager.

Elliott Appleyard  raped his teenage daughter 'three or four times a week' and treated her as his 'wife'

Elliott Appleyard raped his teenage daughter 'three or four times a week' and treated her as his 'wife'

Pervert Appleyard forced her to have a tattoo on her shoulder with his nickname on it as a ‘declaration of love’ and even put an engagement ring on her finger, telling they would ‘live happily ever after’.

The 71-year-old from Denby Dale was jailed at Leeds Crown Court on Friday for 20 years following a seven-day trial.

He had denied the charges but was eventually found guilty by a jury of five counts of rape and 10 counts of indecent assault.

The conviction comes more than three decades after Miss Higgins, now 49, tried to first break her silence on the abuse she suffered.

She reported it to police in 1985 but was told it would “blacken her name” if she pursued the case.

The mum-of-two then tried to report it again in 2005 and 2012 before a full investigation was finally launched in 2015.

She claims “systematic failures” in her case from 1985 to present day are being probed by police.

Speaking outside the court following sentencing, and holding back tears, she said: “I feel like justice has been served and I could not be happier.

“It has taken five attempts for me to keep knocking on that door.

“Never give up fighting for justice, ever.

“You feel jealous of other people because you don’t have that support.

“It’s a lonely place to be because I didn’t have anybody to love me the way I wanted to be loved.

“I will always feel sad. The pain will never go away but I’ve got enough courage to rebuild and heal.

“This is the biggest mountain I’ve ever had to climb and I feel like I’m at the summit now and have put the flag in.

“Go and speak your truths to the police and make sure your voice is heard.

“I also hope it makes paedophiles think twice about touching children, knowing they will get 20 years.”

During the trial, Mr Hampton, prosecuting, said the abuse took place several times a week between 1983 and 1985 had ‘destroyed all of Carol’s adult life’ and she had received years of counselling.

Miss Higgins had to undergo lengthy treatment and plastic surgery to remove the tattoo which was a permanent reminder of the abuse.

The court was told how Appleyard, of Denby Dale, ruled the household through violence and threats of beatings.

His wife was threatened with a machete and had a shotgun pointed at her head, the jury heard.

She later left him but was unable to care for Carol properly, who feared that she would be taken into care.

Sentencing Appleyard, Judge Rodney Jameson QC said: “You had the opportunity to recognise that the feelings for your daughter were wrong and to behave differently.

“You treated Carol as your wife, you used her and abused her physically and emotionally as you had done with your wife. It is not surprising that she feels confusion, embarrassment, shame and even guilt.

“It is clear that the effect of these offences is profound and lifelong.”

He was given a lifelong restraining order and will also remain on the sex offenders register for life.