Ipswich: Victim of Stephen Benson says predatory coach fully deserves his 16-year jail term
- Credit: Contributed
PREDATORY athletics coach Stephen Benson’s earliest victim today said he fully deserves the 16-year prison sentence he was given by Ipswich Crown Court.
Abused from the age of 15 by a man who grievously betrayed the trust so many placed in him, the woman added she has not a shred of sympathy for him.
Long gone is the young girl whose childhood he stole through domination and manipulation. Now she appears a strong, independent woman, although still dealing with the legacy of what he did.
She said: “I have no sympathy for him whatsoever. He brought it on himself. He did these things. He has got to pay for them.
“I’m angry at him for stealing probably the most important four years of my life when I should have been making friends and socialising.
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“He took that away and he took my confidence away as well.
“It’s affected my life and it’s still affecting my life, and probably will continue to affect my life.”
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After breaking free from Benson for so many years, his victim thought she had put what had gone on behind her.
However, she did not realise she was still suffering the consequences of the Benson’s abuse until police came calling just over a year ago.
The youngest of Benson’s victims had previously revealed what Benson had done to her.
Police became involved and Detective Constable Wendy Leah traced the thread back to Benson’s original victim.
She said: “I spent 20 years just blocking it out, trying to forget it. It was always there, but I was trying to get on with my life as normal.
“Wendy Leah phoned me. We agreed to meet. In that conversation I realised what she was going to talk about.
“I started worrying about it for weeks. I didn’t want anything to do with it to be honest.
“She opened the floodgates and now I can’t close them. It’s been pretty horrific over the past 14 months.
“I have had to tell people I have known for a long time something they never knew about me. I have had to tell my family which I never intended to, but I had no choice.
“It just feels like people are looking at me in a different way, feeling sorry for me which they probably aren’t.”
When she gave evidence in court Benson’s victim was shielded from him by a screen.
However, yesterday at his sentencing she sat in full view of him in the dock. When she first heard they would see each other for the first time for so many years she nearly did not go to court.
“Then I thought about it and my thought was ‘I want to see and hear for myself what happens – It must help me psychologically if I face him’ and it did.
“He looked a man in denial. He shook his head a lot. I caught his eye and held his stare. I thought ‘you are not going to bully me any more and I’m not a kid any more’.”
The woman said a weight fell from her shoulders after Benson was jailed.
“I cried. It was relief because the ordeal for me was over and I feel I can try to piece my life together now its done, and perhaps seek the help I should have got 20 years ago, but didn’t realise I needed.
“I have never had a proper relationship because of what happened. I have had boyfriends but I just couldn’t cope with it. It has affected my life all the time, but I hadn’t really looked at it in that way.
“It feels like I will never get rid of him. I get nightmares still about him. I hear the name Benson and it just makes my skin crawl. I see a runner go past me and it triggers things. I can’t go anywhere because something triggers it.
“I’m hoping I can get on with my life properly now, without looking over my shoulder.”
Benson’s victim thanked police and all the other agencies who have given her strength and support.
She also encouraged any other sex abuse victims to find the courage to come forward and report what has happened to them.