Leeds & West Yorkshire

Elliott Appleyard: Father abused daughter as his 'wife'

Elliott Appleyard
Image caption Elliott Appleyard, 71, abused his daughter when she was in her early teenage years

A man who treated his teenage daughter as his "wife" has been found guilty of sexually abusing her during the 1980s.

Elliott Appleyard raped Carol Higgins "three or four times a week" at their West Yorkshire home when she was aged between 13 and 15, a court heard.

Miss Higgins, who waived her right to anonymity, first reported it to police in 1985, but was told it would "blacken her name" if she pursued it.

Appleyard was convicted of 15 charges including rape and indecent assault.

The jury took less than two hours to reach their unanimous verdicts, with a tearful Miss Higgins hugging her family as she left the courtroom.

During the Leeds Crown Court trial, the prosecution said Appleyard, 71, of Gilthwaites Crescent, Denby Dale, ruled the household through violence and threats of beatings.

His wife was threatened with a machete for having a "sex dream" and had a shotgun pointed at her head, the jury heard.

Image caption Carol Higgins, pictured outside of Leeds Crown Court with her partner Del Powell shortly after Appleyard's conviction

Miss Higgins, who is now 49, went to police again in 2015 and told officers Appleyard took her to a tattoo parlour in Barnsley to have a declaration of love tattooed on her shoulder.

He put his wife's engagement ring on his daughter's finger and took photos of her in her underwear, the court heard.

The trial heard from Appleyard's son, Paul Appleyard, who said he had seen his father "snogging" his sister in the kitchen of their home.

He recalled a time where he returned home early from a football match and saw his sister in her father's bedroom window in her underwear, with the doors to the house locked.

Miss Higgins said she was also raped by Appleyard in a cabin while they were on board a Scandinavian cruise ship.

Jurors were shown a recorded police interview with Miss Higgins where she told officers her father "wanted to treat me like a wife" and would "live together happily ever after".

"He'd try to make me feel like it was normal, he said other friends did it with their fathers," she said.

Peter Hampton, prosecuting, said the abuse had "destroyed all of her adult life" and she had received counselling for many years.

Appleyard was remanded in custody and is due to be sentenced on Friday.

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