Brave Rebecca Leyland has revealed the horror she went through as a child but has reused to let rapist Frederick Roskell hurt her future
Vile Frederick Roskell launched his brutal attack on terrified Rebecca Leyland after gaining the family’s trust though dating her aunty.
Rebecca, now 22, said the beast raped her on the back sat of the school bus he drove, before dragging her to a cemetery and pointing to two graves.
He then violently warned the shuddering child not to tell anyone, because if she did “I’ll bury you next to them.”
The horrific assault ended a happy child ooh spent with her mother Sandra, now 45, and triggered a lifelong phobia of school buses and she would stay late at school and walk home, so scared she was of getting on one.
But the young woman decided she had to face her fears and speak to police after she became a mother herself at the age of 18 as she did not want other innocent youngsters to be abused.
Rebecca, of Preston, Lancashire, told how she was five when Roskell would take the school bus at weekends and drive his girlfriend’s family to parks and the coast.
They also visited a local cemetery where they would play hide and seek, but one weekend he let all the children off the bus except Rebecca.
“The other kids jumped off but he stopped me and held me back,” she recalled. “His big, bulky body loomed over me and then he pinned me down.
“I didn’t know what it was at the time. I was only five. But he raped me on the back seats of the school bus.
“I was confused and I didn’t know what was happening. I just knew that it hurt and I didn’t like it. When it was over I burst into tears.”
Rebecca said she asked Roskell: “Why did you hurt me? I just wanted to play with the others.”
“But he ignored me, and dragged me off the bus and into the cemetery,” she continued.
“He took me to two graves and pointed at them. He said, ‘That’s my mum and dad and if you tell anyone what I did I’ll bury you next to them.’ I was terrified.”
From them on the abuse took place regularly.
She said: “He would abuse me whenever nobody else was around. The outings on the school bus that had once brought me such joy filled me with dread.
“I knew what he was doing was wrong, but I was too afraid to tell anyone in case he killed me.”
When she was seven Roskell split up with her aunt, who asked not to be named, and Rebecca did not see him again.
She said: "I was so thankful that I wouldn’t have to endure anymore of his abuse. But what he had done stayed with me.
“As I got older I suffered terrible flashbacks and I refused to get on a bus ever again. I’d hide at school until the school bus left and then I’d walk home.
“I was desperate to tell someone the truth, but I was still terrified that Frederick would hunt me down and kill me.”
She suffered depression and anxiety, but in 2007, when I was 15, she met Anthony, then 17.
Rebecca said: “He was kind, sensitive, and caring, I felt myself opening up to him. I told him about what happened six months later. He was shocked but he held me as I cried.
“He convinced me to tell mum. More than a decade had passed and I was worried she wouldn’t believe me.”
Rebecca’s mum told her to report Roskell to the police but she refused.
“His threat still rang in my head,” she admitted. “I was still too scared to speak up, petrified that people wouldn’t believe me and would label me a liar.
“I told my mum I wanted to forget it happened. But burying it was impossible. I hadn’t seen Frederick in years, but whenever I saw a man his age, my heart pounded with fear.
“I was constantly looking over my shoulder, afraid of who might be behind me.”
When Rebecca was 18 she fell pregnant and gave birth to her daughter Alexis, who is nearly four, in March 2011.
She continued: “As soon as I held her I felt an overwhelming rush of love. I knew I couldn’t let him abuse anymore innocent children.”
She went to the police station in Preston and officers took her statement - a move that Rebecca said was incredibly hard.
“Reliving every detail was awful, it brought back so many painful memories,” she said.
“But Frederick had stolen my childhood and my innocence. I wanted him locked up for what he’d done.”
In 2011 Roskell was arrested but it was July 2013 before the case went to court.
Frederick Roskell, then 56, and of Blackburn, Lancashire, appeared at Preston Crown Court charged with six counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13, and rape of a child under 13 – Rebecca.
He denied the charges but Roskell was found guilty of all the counts which referred to both Rebecca and another child.
In August 2013 he was jailed for 16 years and Rebecca was there to see her abuser, who she said looked weak and pathetic, sent down.
She said: "In that moment I realised, I was no longer scared of him. He was a monster, who’d taken advantage of an innocent young girl.
“Leaving the court felt like a huge weight being lifted. I’m now working to put the past behind me, and I’m focusing on my future.
“My rapist may have stolen my childhood, but he can’t take away my future.”
Detective Sergeant Jamie Lillystone, from Lancashire Constabulary, paid tribute to both Rebecca and the other victim and stressed how the historic nature of the crimes made the case complex.
She added: “It has undoubtedly removed a very dangerous man from the streets of Lancashire.”