Family highlights rapist’s sentence to encourage victims to come forward

Rape victim’s father speaks out

By Gemma Burns

The father of a young North Belfast woman who was raped and held prisoner by an assailant who also threatened to cut off her fingers, has spoken out about her ordeal in a bid to encourage other victims to come forward.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous to protect his 20 year old daughter’s identity was speaking after Gerald Verner, 23, of Forthriver Park in North Belfast was jailed for seven years last Friday (23 March).

Last month, just before his victim was due to take the stand, Verner – a who had served for the British security forces in Afghanistan – pleaded guilty to charges that he raped, falsely imprisoned, threatened to kill and caused actual bodily harm to the woman on 6 February 2011. He was acquitted of other rape charges and a charge of grievous bodily harm.

During the young woman’s ordeal Verner was alleged to have taken her to his home and held her captive. At one point he promised an interrogation of “ten minutes of honesty” but that for each supposed lie she told, he could cut off the tip of one of her fingers.

The devastated father of the victim said he wanted the rapist’s guilt highlighted adding that his daughter will now try to “move on with her life”.

The devoted dad spoke of how his traumatised daughter was forced to drop out of university and leave her part time job after the attack but is now trying to put her ordeal behind her after her attacker was jailed last week.

“We are pleased with the sentence he received,” he said.

“It has been a terrible, terrible time for her. She was a first year at university but dropped out and left her part time job, she’s still getting counseling. Some days she finds it hard to go out, she cries constantly but now all this is over we hope it gives her that wee bit of closure and she can try to look forward.”

As well as the jail term, Judge Gemma Loughran imposed an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order. This bars Verner from ever contacting his victim or her family, living at any address without approval, changing his personal circumstances such as address, job or car ownership without prior approval or from entering a new relationship without telling his designated risk manager.

The father said he hopes by speaking out about his daughter’s ordeal that it would help other rape victims speak out and bring their attacker to justice.

“I want other people to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to come forward,” he said.

“I know it is traumatic to have to go through it all again with the police and court, but maybe this will encourage someone else to come forward and report what has happened to them.”

“It has been a terrible, terrible time for her. She was a first year at university but dropped out and left her part time job, she’s still getting counseling. Some days she finds it hard to go out, she cries constantly but now all this is over we hope it gives her that wee bit of closure and she can try to look forward.”

As well as the jail term, Judge Gemma Loughran imposed an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order. This bars Verner from ever contacting his victim or her family, living at any address without approval, changing his personal circumstances such as address, job or car ownership without prior approval or from entering a new relationship without telling his designated risk manager.

The father said he hopes by speaking out about his daughter’s ordeal that it would help other rape victims speak out and bring their attacker to justice.

“I want other people to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to come forward,” he said.

“I know it is traumatic to have to go through it all again with the police and court, but maybe this will encourage someone else to come forward and report what has happened to them.”

 

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