Victim calls for life sentences for rapist couple

By Sarah Bell and Katie Alston
Victoria Derbyshire programme

image captionSarah says she became a heroin addict to block out the abuse

A woman sexually abused by a couple dubbed "the Fred and Rose West" of their housing estate has told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme she is angry they were not given life sentences. "Sarah" also urged other victims of Peter and Avril Griffiths to come forward.

"I still have flashbacks to what happened," said Sarah, which is not her real name. "I have nightmares, the last one was about two weeks ago. In the dream, I said to them I was sorry and then they were let out of jail."

She kept her ordeal a secret until police contacted her as a witness to another woman's abuse.

"I needed people to know what dangerous people they were, so felt I had no choice but to tell police that I was actually a victim," she said.

"The girl came forward and I thought, 'If she can do it, I can do it.' It was up there with the hardest thing I've ever done in my life."

Earlier this month, Peter and Avril Griffiths, of Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, were sentenced to 21 and 15 years in prison respectively for a string of rapes, indecent assaults and child sex abuse.

One victim told the court that the couple were well-known in Barry and had earned a nickname based on another evil couple, serial killers Fred and Rose West.

Sarah said their sentences were not long enough.

"They should have had a life sentence because of the impact they'd had and so they can't hurt other children ever again. It put me on the road to ruin what they did to me."


The pair had denied a string of charges from the 1980s and 1990s against three women, including Sarah.

"I know there are more victims, they just need to come forward," she said. "I hope them seeing what I have done gives them the strength."

The court heard Peter Griffiths used his wife, who is deemed to have a low IQ, as "bait" to lure young girls to him so he could rape them.

Sarah knew them as a child, at first thinking they were "really nice people, they fed me, made me feel welcome".

The abuse began when she hit puberty - when Peter Griffiths started to comment on her body.

"I knew it was wrong but I didn't have the strength or mindset at that age to know what was going on," she said.

"They were grooming me. I know that now after I had my children. It's only then I realised what they were doing."

He later took topless photos of her and said he could sell them for money, which she badly needed.

Heroin addict

Sarah, who has faced homelessness, heroin addiction and having her children taken into care, gave evidence behind a screen.

"I couldn't be supported by my family because they didn't know," she said, "but I have recently told a few a few of them. My brother had to tell my mum.

"My boyfriend didn't know. I'd been with him for 20 years and never been able to tell him about what happened to me. It has really taken its toll on our relationship."

image copyrightWales News Service
image captionPeter and Avril Griffiths were described by police as depraved and sadistic

In 2004, the police contacted her about indecent photos taken by the couple but no further action was taken - the CPS said there was not enough evidence to take them to court.

"They had the photographs, so they should have been done for that," Sarah said.

She said her mental health had been "up and down" and she had tried to kill herself three times.

But she has now been clean of heroin, which she took to block out the abuse, for seven years.

"It's like a massive weight has been lifted - a lot brighter - I want to do something with my life now," she said.

"People don't really know me, not the real me - I'm a nice quiet individual, harmless, kind, caring - people haven't been able to see that side of me and it's gutting. "

Watch the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 BST on BBC Two and the BBC News channel in the UK and on iPlayer afterwards.

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