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Barnack woman’s disgust at sentence for brother who raped her

Janice Britchford, of Barnack, who was abused by her brother Douglas Shell as a child. EMN-150223-142552001
Janice Britchford, of Barnack, who was abused by her brother Douglas Shell as a child. EMN-150223-142552001

A woman who was raped by her brother as a child says her attacker has not been properly punished after a judge gave him no more than a supervision order.

Douglas Shell was in his late teens when he began abusing his sister Janice, aged just seven, at their home in Easton-on-the-Hill.

I feel like I should have left it where it was buried
Janice Britchford

The attacks had a huge impact on Janice, who moved away from the area and tried to bury the memories.

Three years ago she moved to Barnack with husband John Britchford. But after seeing her brother in Morrisons in Stamford, the horrific images returned, and she decided to go to the police in November 2013.

Shell, now 73, admitted one count of indecent assault and was later found guilty of four charges of rape and three of indecency with a child. His deteriorating mental health meant he could not enter a plea to those charges.

Shell was given a supervision order by Judge Lynn Tayton QC at Northampton Crown Court on Friday last week, and placed on the sex offenders’ register. The court was told Shell had dementia and would be unfit for prison.

Janice did not expect her brother to get a custodial sentence. But her first reaction to the judge’s ruling was one of disgust.

“He is still free to walk around,” she said.

“I’m so scared of running into him.”

Janice, who waived her right to lifetime anonymity to speak to the Mercury about the case, had hoped her brother would be ordered to take part in a treatment programme. Her disappointment with the supervision order was clear.

She said: “I get a hell of a lot of flashbacks at the moment. I don’t think the case has brought me closure because of the sentence.

“I feel like I should have left it where it was buried. Because for all that I went through, it hasn’t achieved anything. He is walking round as large as life. Until I took this to the police, he was working, he was going to pubs. He was a normal bloke. He has not been punished for his crimes.”

Shell’s abuse of his younger sister carried on until she was 12.

Janice said she deliberately put on weight to try to make herself unattractive, and at 17 got pregnant and married just so she could get away from her brother.

She tried to repress the memories of the attacks, but some remain vivid in her mind.

“The very first time I can remember when he actually had sex with me was when I was about seven,” said Janice. “It happened in his bedroom. Afterwards he told me I had to strip the bed and wash the sheets before mum got home.

“I can remember that as clear as day, though there is a lot that I had forgotten.”

She added: “The abuse carried on until I was 12. I was told that if I said anything that I would be put away and would never see my other siblings. He would tell me he loved me and at that age you believe it and you think you are not doing anything wrong.

“I didn’t think it was wrong because I was never told.”

Janice believes the recent high-profile convictions of sex offenders like Rolf Harris means historic cases are now more likely to be heard.

She said: “I hope this will help other people come forward.”


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