Thursday 17 September 2015

'My best friend married the man who raped me and my life was destroyed', says bridesmaid

A bridesmaid to be looking forward to her best friend’s wedding has told how her life was destroyed after she was raped by the groom and then shunned by his bride for exposing his vile attack.

Royal Army Medical Corps officer Daniel Howard, 29, was jailed last week for seven years. His new wife, April, had refused to believe he had carried out the assault, and went ahead with her wedding just three weeks before his trial.
Her former best friend, a university pal who thought their friendship would be a lifelong bond, said: “I was meant to be a bridesmaid at her wedding.we were meant to have children at similar times and raise them together. I only said something in the first place to try to protect April.

“I couldn’t have stood in church on her wedding day knowing what had happened and that it would most probably happen again.”

Revealing her heartbreak in a victim impact statement, the woman "Our whole friendship group has become divided when I most needed my close friends.
The attack happened at Howard’s home following a night out in Darlington, County Durham. He left the bed he shared with fiancee April, and went to the room next door to rape her friend.

His terrified victim, a professional woman now aged 26, tried to call her boyfriend after the attack but his phone was switched off.

She went to hospital alone, where nurses contacted police.

The woman spoke of how her boyfriend had been like “a rock” as she struggled to cope, but took his own life in the wake of the attack.

She said: “He felt partly responsible for what had happened, he had turned his phone off that night. I couldn’t get hold of him.

“He never forgave himself for that. He always worried every time I went somewhere and wouldn’t sleep if I went out, it put a strain on us.”
That strain ended with the relationship breaking down. She said: “He committed suicide a few months after we broke up.

“Even though there were multiple things contributing to this it had quite an effect on him. He was always my rock and supported me through everything. I feel this is partly my fault.

"The rape made me a nightmare girlfriend. He shouldn’t have had to deal with anything like this.”

When Howard was arrested, he concocted what was described in court as a “ludicrous, cold-blooded and insulting” story to explain how his DNA was found on intimate swabs from his victim.

He claimed she had found a sex toy he had used weeks earlier, hidden in a drawer in the room where she stayed – and had used it to leave the evidence, acting out of jealousy over his relationship.

His claims were dismissed by the jury at Teesside crown court, who took just 90 minutes to convict him.

Recorder Andrew Sutcliffe, QC, told Howard: “In the face of overwhelming DNA evidence to the contrary, you continued to deny this ever happened. This attempt to humiliate your victim severely exacerbated the wrong you had already done to her.”

April married Howard, a graduate from the Sandhurst military academy, in a lavish wedding last month and sobbed at the court as he was found guilty after a four-day trial.

His victim admitted in her statement: “I’m really upset my friendship with April no longer exists.

“April was my best friend from Uni. I can’t actually believe she doesn’t believe me.

"A person I really cared for and who cared for me has been turned against me.

"I can’t believe April is a witness, fighting against me when we always fought together and for each other.”

The woman, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, added: “He loves April and April loves him so why this happened I will never know.

“I blamed myself until I had counselling. I thought the playsuit I wore was too provocative, but any 24-year-old would have worn it. Then I thought maybe I looked too similar to April.

“I never worried and would dress up in ridiculous outfits at Uni with April, we didn’t care. I’m so conscious of other people’s perceptions now.”

Telling how all her future plans had been wiped out by the attack in February last year, she added: “I was ready to buy my own house but don’t feel confident enough to be by myself.

“It sounds silly but I am frightened someone will come and get me again and no one will know. I had a job I loved, a strong relationship, a bright future.

“Now I feel damaged and broken. My sister is a lot more protective of me – I’m supposed to be her big sister.”

Culled from mirror online