Care home rapist Colin Stokes a 'monster', says victims family
A care worker who raped three severely disabled residents of the home where he worked has been described as a "monster" by the victims' relatives.
Colin Stokes has now been jailed for 14 years for the attacks that went on for more than a year. For those who entrusted their loved ones into his care, it will take a long time to recover.
One victim's mother described how her "world fell apart" the moment she discovered her 32-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted by Stokes.
Her daughter has severe learning disabilities, who is unable to communicate verbally apart from saying "yes" and "no" and needs 24-hour care.
"I felt numb with shock and physically sick," wrote her mother Susan, in a Victim Impact Statement provided to Gloucester Crown Court.
"He was in a position of trust and she is so vulnerable. All our lives have been ripped apart."
What made the attacks even more difficult for them to take was hearing in court that Stokes had been arrested in 2007 on suspicion of similar allegations at another care home - but the case was later dropped by police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
The victim's sister, Michelle, directed her horror at Stokes himself, saying "that monster has ruined my life" and that having seen him in court, she will never be able to forget his face.
In her own statement she described how she had felt "sick, angry, upset, drained and so guilty for not protecting [my sister] from him".
In January, Stokes - a 48-year-old care worker from Dursley, Gloucestershire - pleaded guilty to three counts of rape involving women aged 32, 50 and 54, each with severe learning disabilities, between January 2012 and April 2013.
One of his victims has the mental age of a child, another is registered blind and the third needs an electronic aid to communicate.
They shared their ordeal with police officers through a specialist intermediary and by using picture symbols to illustrate emotions and parts of the anatomy targeted by Stokes.
Susan said the interview process alone was enough to make her daughter physically sick, which she herself found so distressing "it broke her heart".
She wanted to protect her daughter and said her guilt would remain "until the day we die".
"The agony we have of not knowing how many times that evil man went into her bedroom and hurt her, she must have been so scared," she said.
"This evil man has hurt our little girl in such a horrendous way, our guilt of putting her [in the care home] will never go away."
No further investigation
The offences happened last year at a Gloucestershire domiciliary care home, which cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Even for Gloucestershire Police it has been one of the most disturbing cases they have had to investigate.
Det Chief Supt Bernie Kinsella said: "In my 26 years of experience I have never come across anyone who has preyed on vulnerable victims in such a way as this."
It has even identified the case as being the first in the force's history of using an intermediary during police interviews.
But this was not the case in 2007 when Stokes was first arrested - and it could have been the key in ensuring the case was not dropped.
The CPS admitted it had not, at that time, understood the importance and benefit of intermediaries "in ascertaining evidence from victims of sexual assault".
Spokeswoman Rachael Scott said the 2007 complaint would be looked at "considerably differently" if it was made to them now.
"We understand so much more now about how people with impairments can be heard, in gaining evidence from witnesses, and allowing intermediaries to give evidence in court," she said.
Gloucestershire Police said it had been back over the 2007 arrest and were not investigating it again, but they would be very interested to hear from anyone who has any information about Stokes, particularly his working in care home settings.
The home remains open but the care provider has given notice for the residents to move out by the end of next month. It is currently unknown where they will be moved to.
- Names have been changed in this piece to protect the victims.