ALISON’S STORY APPEARED IN ‘THAT’S LIFE AUSTRALIA’ AND ‘LOVE IT!’ MAGAZINE. HAVE YOU DISCOVERED A SHOCKING FAMILY SECRET? IF SO, GET IN TOUCH.
My earliest memory is of sitting on a rug infront of the fire, gentle flames warming my cheeks. Arms then wrap around my shoulders and cuddle me.
I glance up to see my smiling mum, Susan, 61, her brown, frizzy hair framing her face.
It’s also one of the only memories I have of my mum. She vanished after that.
I was just three when, in May 1988, Mum and Dad, Martyn, 59, went out separately for the night. But while Dad returned to relieve the babysitter of me and sister Becky, then six, Mum never did.
That evening me and Becky were dropped off at the home of our Nan, Irene. We giggled and played until we slept, unaware anything had happened. The following morning, though, Dad returned with the police. Nan sat me down once they left.
‘Look,’ she sighed. ‘Your mum’s gone.’
‘Is she in heaven?’ I asked, confused.
‘No, she ran away.’
Days, weeks and then months trickled by with not even a phone call off Mum. I’d ask Dad about her, but would barely get a response.
‘Don’t mention your Mum to Daddy. It makes him upset,’ Nan would explain.
I learnt to leave Dad alone and keep questions to myself. I imagined my mum was a princess who just had to leave us behind to look after others for a while. But, aged around six, Nan let slip some more information.
I’d asked if Mum was ever coming back and she bit her lip, trying to find the right words.
‘No. She ran away with someone else,’ she blurted out.
Nan explained she’d gone off with Michael Kime, 61, one of Dad’s best friends!
Still, I clutched on to hope. But, aged eight, Dad started to see someone else.
‘I take it Mum’s not coming back then?’ I asked, welling up.
‘No. I did try to tell you,’ he said.
The idea of Mum being a princess started to fade, and by the time Dad married Carole, 63, a couple of years later it had shattered.
Aged 11, I ran away from home. I just had to get away from everything. I cut myself off from family and spent years drifting from place to place.
But in 2009 I met Darren, 46. We quickly moved in together and he encouraged me to get back in touch with Dad and Becky.
Slowly, I built things back up. I had a partner, a home, family. Then, in 2013, I answered the phone to Becky, now 33, one day.
‘You need to get here quick,’ she said.
‘Why? What’s happened?’ I snapped back.
‘The police want to talk to us – me, you and Dad,’ she said.
I immediately made my way to Becky’s, mind racing.
It must be about Mum. Was she dead?
Within minutes we were all together, staring at an officer.
‘We’ve found your mum,’ he started. ‘She’s with Michael, her husband. They’ve both been arrested.’
‘Where is she? And arrested for what?’ Becky asked.
‘I’m afraid we can’t say any more at this stage,’ the officer said.
The room fell silent. What on earth had happened? It was a few weeks before we found out.
Walking around a supermarket, I clapped eyes on the local newspaper. There was a picture on the front page of a woman I vaguely recognised. And then it clicked. It was Mum!
I stood for a moment, frozen, just staring at her picture. She looked old, completely different to the woman who wrapped her arms around me at the fireplace.
I read the story and my stomach flipped. Mum had abandoned me … for a paedophile!
It turned out Michael ran off days before he was due to stand trial for sexually assaulting a young girl between 1983 and 1988. The girl was just eight when it started.
He was finally found half-way across the country in Kent and re-arrested. Mum was with him and arrested, too, for perverting the course of justice. They’d been on the run for 25 years!
I felt sick. How could my mum leave us for someone who’d hurt children?
I’d just had a child myself, Isaac, now one, and my blood boiled at the thought of someone harming him. Becky called soon after.
‘Avoid the shops …’ she started.
‘Too late,’ I cut in.
‘I’ve spoken to her,’ she then said. ‘She wants to see you.’
‘Not a chance,’ I spat.
I thought the surprises were over. But it was just the beginning …
In December 2014 Mum and Michael, who’d legally changed their surname to Evans, appeared at Lincoln Crown Court. Here, the full story came out.
They worked on farms in Kent picking fruit before Michael used my dad’s birth and marriage certificates to get a passport. Then they moved to Crete to pick olives. Later, they moved back to England and Michael got a driving license in the name of ‘Martyn Foster’. He’d stolen my dad’s identity!
It all came crashing down in 2012 when police carried out a review into Mum’s disappearance – she was still on the missing persons list. They tracked her down and discovered the man she was living with was on the run.
The original case against Michael was re-opened and, with a fresh statement from the victim, Michael was detained in December 2013. Michael was convicted of two charges of attempted rape, six charges of indecent assault and two charges of indecency with a child.
It dawned on me that Dad must have known more than he let on. At least that Michael was a paedophile.
‘Why didn’t you tell us the full story?’ I asked, angry.
‘Because I didn’t want you to have that image of your mum in your head – leaving you for someone like that!’ he said.
My anger settled. He was only trying to protect us.
With Mum out on bail, I agreed to meet her just the once at Becky’s house. I had all these questions jumbling around my head. Why did you leave us? Why him? But when I saw her I went blank.
There were no attempts at a hug, not even a hand shake. She just stared at me, the hint of a smile on her face.
‘You know I’ve always loved you,’ she eventually said. ‘You know I’ve always thought about you, don’t you?’
I stood up, shaking. How could she say something like that after what she’d done?
‘Just stay away from me. I never want to see you again!’ I shouted.
I stormed out then, numb all over.
Becky carried on speaking to Mum, but I couldn’t.
Finally, on 17th April this year, Michael and Susan Evans were sentenced.
Michael was given 12 years in prison for the sexual offences and three years for perverting the course of justice. Mum was spared an immediate jail term and instead given a two-year suspended sentence.
It’s brought me some closure. At least now I know what happened. But that doesn’t mean I’m happy with the result – I think Mum deserves to be sent down.
I know you’re not supposed to say that about your mum, but she’s not my mum at the end of the day. She lost that right when she ran away with a monster.