A woman who fought for more than 30 years for her rapist father to be investigated by police is taking legal action against the force for an alleged breach of human rights.
Carol Higgins, who waived her right to anonymity, was raped ‘three or four times a week’ during the 1980s by Elliott Appleyard, and was even made to wear an engagement ring belonging to his wife.
The 52-year-old victim from Pontefract pleaded for help from West Yorkshire Police six times but she was repeatedly ignored.
Carol Higgins (left), who fought for more than 30 years for her rapist father Elliott Appleyard (right) to be investigated by police, is taking legal action against the force
The Centre for Women’s Justice has now taken up her case following the 2019 conviction of Appleyard who was found guilty of five counts of rape and 10 counts of indecent assault, Yorkshire Live reported.
At court, Ms Higgins revealed she was forced to have a tattoo of her father’s nickname put on her shoulder, which she later had removed.
In a victim impact statement, she said: ‘You took my childhood away from me, and treated me like a slave.
‘For 35 years I have been made to suffer the loss of my father and my family.
‘Part of me wishes that someone on the street had raped me instead, because at least then I would have had the love and support of my family.’
Appleyard was sentenced to 20 years in prison at Leeds Crown Court who heard Ms Higgins was treated as his wife after his real wife walked out.
Appleyard was sentenced to 20 years in prison at Leeds Crown Court who heard Ms Higgins was treated as his wife after his real wife walked out
The daughter said that she first reported the abuse in 1985, but was told that proceeding any further would ‘blacken her name’ and that she would be considered to be the ‘biggest slag going’.
She went back to the police again in 2005, 2012 and 2014.
When she returned in 2015, police decided to investigate but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges.
Ms Higgins had the ruling reviewed and Appleyard finally faced justice.
She has now issued a High Court claim against the Chief Constable for West Yorkshire Police for a breach of Article 3 of the Human Rights Act.
The claim is on hold while it is considered by the Independent Office for Police Conduct against the police’s own findings.
Article 3 of the Human Rights Act protects people from torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, and deportation or exploitation.
The daughter reported the abuse to the police for the first time aged 15 in 1985
Her claim will submit that the police failed in its duty to properly investigate her abuse allegations.
Legal representatives from the Centre for Women’s Justice said they have serious concerns about how her case was handled and the subsequent impact it had on their client.
Ms Higgins is seeking a court declaration that her rights were breached as well as damages.
In her impact statement in 2019, she told her father: ‘I wanted to reach down inside my stomach and pull away the foulness that you planted inside me.
‘I will never be able to break free from the chains that you bound me in.’
Delivering the sentence, Judge Rodney Jameson QC told the sex offender, of Denby Dale, Huddersfield: ‘For a 12-month period you treated Carol Higgins as your wife.
‘You used her for sex, and abused her physically, as you did your own wife.
‘It is not surprising that she felt then, and feels now, suffering, embarrassment, shame and even guilt.’
Ms Higgins is now pushing to change the law on how incest is viewed and prosecuted, and is crowdfunding to pay the £5,400 requested to see the court documents for her father’s trial.
The IOPC confirmed it was ‘assessing the appeal’ while West Yorkshire Police were approached for comment.