A woman who was sexually abused as a teenager by her school taxi driver says victims need to “keep telling people” until someone listens and offers help.
Esther Hoad, who has waived her right to lifelong anonymity, was sexually abused by Evan Heddwyn Jones - the man who drove her every day in that role.
Jones, 71, of Harford, Llanwrda, in Carmarthenshire, was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault. He was sentenced to three years in prison at Swansea Crown Court last month and will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for the rest of his life.
Esther is now 53 and said she was abused by Jones in the 1970s when she was aged between 14 and 16.
Esther said Jones started by touching her leg, calling her “sweetheart” and saying he thought the world of her.
She said: “The first time he kissed me on the lips I was in absolute distress. He said ‘I love you’. I was hysterical.
“I went into the house and I was bawling my eyes out.”
Esther added: “It was a dreadful time.”
She said the abuse continued until she left the area at the age of 16.
Esther said: “The abuse went on and on and on and I thought it was my fault so I didn’t tell anyone.” She added: “I didn’t know who to trust.”
Esther didn’t officially report Jones to the police until she was 52 and Jones was later charged.
Now Esther is urging other sexual abuse victims to speak up and seek help.
She said: “I’m in a privileged position in that it went to court and that it was successful and that he [Jones] was found guilty.
“He is in prison now where he no longer poses a threat to children and that is key.
“There is hope for anyone who has been abused. Forty years later I got justice in court and it is never too late to come forward.
“Keep telling people until you find someone who will listen and who will help.”
Police said that as there was no CCTV at the time and no possibility of retrieving any DNA or forensic evidence the investigation relied on the victim’s statements and from her diaries, which included details of the abuse.
DC Lee Davies, the officer in charge of the investigation, said: “The sentencing of Jones is a significant result for Dyfed-Powys Police and also the victim of these abhorrent crimes.
“I am pleased that justice has been served 40 years after the crimes were committed.
“The impact of this abuse has had a lasting and damaging effect on the victim. It has taken great courage for her to come forward and to stand before a judge and jury to provide her evidence.
“I applaud her for finding the confidence to come forward to ensure the man who sexually abused her as a teenager was convicted.
“I hope this outcome gives other victims of historical sexual abuse confidence that convictions are possible and if they find the confidence to report the offences to Dyfed-Powys Police we will carry out a thorough and detailed investigation to bring others to justice.”