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Mum from Gloucester waives her anonymity to speak out after her Royal Marine dad was jailed for sexually abusing her as a child

By The Citizen  |  Posted: February 08, 2014

TURNING LIFE AROUND:   Leann Huntley who is setting up a support group for abuse victims. Inset; Pictured with her father on her wedding day.

TURNING LIFE AROUND: Leann Huntley who is setting up a support group for abuse victims. Inset; Pictured with her father on her wedding day.

SEX abuse victim Leann Huntley had her childhood ripped from her when her ex-soldier dad began molesting her as an 11-year-old girl.

But the community nurse in Gloucester saw justice in December when Gerald Garrett, 71, was sentenced to six years in jail.

Leann, 39, has now waived her lifetime anonymity granted by the court for victims of sexual abuse to tell her story and help establish a support group for others.

Garrett, a former Royal Marine Commando, was found guilty of seven charges of indecent assault.

The former landlord of The Pelican Inn pub in Gloucester was a familiar face to many regulars in the late-1990s.

No one knew his dark secret of the child abuse he inflicted on Leann from the age of 11 to 14.

When she went for advice, she claims she was ignored and she now hopes to help other survivors of abuse by establishing her own support group in Gloucester, called Believe.

It is a mantra she firmly believes in and has tattooed on her wrist.

"I've carried this for 24 years," said Leann.

"In my case, it was just brushed under the carpet. I was frightened. I just wanted to be part of a normal family. I went off the rails as a teenager.

"It was a build-up of pressure. I was drinking from the age of 14 to block out the memories and left home very young.

"I met my husband in 1997 and that changed everything for me. Dad gave me away at my wedding.

"I was forced to keep the secret. That was not nice for me. I had to pretend it was a normal day. Becoming a mother was the initial trigger that set me off along a dark path. It should have been a happy time. But it all came back to me.

"Dad came to see my daughter when she was a few days old. But I knew I had to do everything I could to protect her.

"I had to keep him away, so I cut all ties with him.

"Just looking at my daughter, I was thinking why?

"I had a breakdown. A health visitor eventually got it out of me, then I told my husband. That is when this journey started."

Leann had counselling with a charity called Survivors of Child Abuse.

She took the brave decision to report her dad to police in April 2012 and an historical sex abuse investigation began.

Garrett was charged with seven counts of indecent assault dating back to the 1980s 10 months later.

That was just the beginning of a fresh ordeal for Leann as she has battled with depression and post traumatic stress disorder.

She added: "There is no end to this journey. Healing from what he has done will go on forever.

"I had nothing to do with him for seven years. I had written a letter telling him to stay away from me and my family.

"I threatened to tell everyone what he was. I never heard from him again.

"I decided I wanted to confront him in 2006 so found out where he was living in Herefordshire.

"My husband came with me and waited outside when I went to confront him at his home.

"He looked me up and down and said 'I don't want an argument'. I went in and sat down and then he started telling me about how ill he was. That fuelled my anger. I said to him – have you any idea what you have done? He said he had done nothing and denied everything, tried to manipulate the situation and make me feel sorry for him.

"I said I know you abused me. He said he used to tickle me, that was all. He was my dad and I believed him. Now I am a mother, I knew what he had done.

"He was a Marine Commando, a very big man, very authoritative and strict.

"He could manipulate any situation to his benefit.

"There was never going to be a happy ending. He is still my dad. There is still that connection.

"But the real bond between father and daughter broke the day he started abusing me."

Leann gave evidence in person at the three-day trial.

Two female jurors broke down in tears when they listened to her account of each shocking abuse. Childhood friends also gave evidence against Garrett.

Gerald Garrett

GERALD Edwin Garrett, 71, of Moor Meadow, Shobdon, Leominster, denied seven charges of indecent assault at Worcester Crown Court in November 2013.

He said the charges were “rubbish” and that they had been fabricated.

After a three-day trial, he was found guilty by majority verdict of 10-2. Garrett had joined the Royal Marine Commandos in the late 1950s at the age of 17. After leaving the service, he did various jobs including working on motorways and building sites and driving HGVs. He had lived in a number of places in the Worcester area including Droitwich, Wychbold and Worcester and had four children.

Garrett later moved to Gloucester and became landlord of The Pelican Inn, a short walk from Gloucester Cathedral.

He suffered two strokes in 2003 which left him with difficulty walking.

In December, he was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court to six years in prison.

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