When Lydia Jones*, 18, left a club alone, ‘gentleman’ Raymond Chan, 45, offered her a taxi home. An hour later she escaped screaming, after being raped three times and given a consent form to sign…
Rifling through my wardrobe, I decided upon a new glittery top to wear.
‘Do you want some wine?’ grinned my friend Becky*, 16, as she tottered in with glasses.
It was January 2008 and we were getting ready for a Friday night out in Brighton with our friend Emma*, 17.
‘Have a great time girls,’ my boyfriend of two years Joe, 17, said, planting a big kiss on my lips.
We went to Yates’ bar, where we drank cocktails and tequila shots.
I began to feel quite tipsy. I carried on dancing and laughing, but by 11pm I wanted some food to sober up and left alone to walk to Subway.
Then a big burly man with tanned skin and a dark ponytail confronted me.
‘Please don’t worry but those men over there are following you – are you OK?’ he said.
Terrified, I looked behind me – but couldn’t see anyone.
‘Why don’t you get in my taxi with me and walk back from where I live? You’ll be safer,’ he said.
Unsure, I decided to call Joe, but he took my phone from me.
‘Your girlfriend’s fine,’ he said. ‘I’m heading home in this taxi. Some men were following her so I thought she should get away from it.”
He gave his Finsbury Road address and Joe agreed to pick me up from there.
‘Come inside and wait,’ he said as the taxi pulled up at his house. ‘There’s no point standing outside in the cold.’
The next thing I knew, he had closed the door and panic suddenly rose within me.
‘I need my phone,’ I stammered, realising he hadn’t given it back. ‘I really need to go – my boyfriend’s looking for me.’
I held my hands out for my phone, but instead he began caressing my fingers.
‘You’re so beautiful ,’ he slurred. I felt sick.
I tried to run for the door but he grabbed me and began kissing me roughly all over.
I screamed as I tried to push him off, but he was bigger and stronger.
As I blinked back stinging tears, he brutally raped me three times, pinning me down on his bed and forcing himself into me so hard I cried out in pain.
When he’d finally had enough he got up and dressed, while I lay sobbing.
Then he passed me a piece of paper and asked me to sign it.
Terrified, I immediately obeyed.
‘It’s to give your consent,’ he added. ‘Some girls have accused me of rape.’
Horrified, I threw it back at him.
He called for a taxi and when it arrived he escorted me to the car, handed over some money and my phone and we drove away.
I fell into hysterics.
‘Take me home,’ I sobbed to the driver, giving Joe’s address. My phone had hundreds of missed calls from him.
At 1am, Joe’s dad Andy*, 41, opened the door, and I ran in and collapsed into Joe’s Mum, Sue’s * arms.
I told them everything between sobs before Andy called Joe, who was out looking for me, to come back.
Although I’d escaped the clutches of that monster, the next few hours were horrific.
Andy called the police, who came to take me to the station for statements, followed by an urgent medical examination to record his DNA.
Raymond Chan was arrested and charged at his Finsbury Road address that day.
I was still a nervous wreck and my dad Martin*, 51, made me move back with him and my stepmum, Bethan*, 30.
Joe was so supportive and understanding. I needed him more than ever.
But another bombshell lay in store for me.
Around four weeks after that terrible night, I realised my period was late.
Joe encouraged me to do a test, and I gasped as the word ‘pregnant’ popped up after three minutes.
Joe grinned widely. ‘We’re going to be parents,’ he smiled.
We had always said that if I fell pregnant we’d keep it.
But it suddenly dawned on me – what if the baby wasn’t Joe’s?
We went straight to the Claude Nichol Family Planning centre in Britghton. Doctors said they were 99 per cent sure Joe was the father as I was seven weeks pregnant.
I had been pregnant when I was raped, a month before.
But for me it was still a worry lurking in the back of my mind.
I moved in with Joe and his parents and we began to plan for the baby’s arrival. Joe was so excited.
A few months later he proposed to me and I accepted – we were going to be a family.
On September 6, 2008 we married at our local Town Hall and had a lovely reception.
Three weeks later, on September 30, I went into labour.
Within two hours, I gave birth to a little girl at Royal Sussex County Hospital, weighing 6lb.
She had a dark tuft of hair, pale skin and bright blue eyes – just like Joe’s.
Relieved, I cradled her in my arms and wept. We decided to call her Emily.
Raymond’s trial approached in late February this year.
Emily was amazing in helping me keep my strength and focus on something else.
As the jury at Lewes Crown Court heard about two previous rape and sexual assault allegations made against Raymond, I felt positive.
Thankfully, he was found guilty of rape and on March 6 2009 was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The judge said he presented himself as a ‘knight in shining armour’ to women, before turning on them and brutally attacking them.
It was a horrendous year for me in many ways – I hate thinking my baby was growing in my womb as Raymond raped me.
But I’ll never tell her – only that I love her so much now she’s here.
I don’t go out on nights out very often any more – I’d much rather stay in with my husband and daughter.
But at least if I do go out, I know that beast won’t prey on anyone else again
*Names have been changed
Image courtesy of .Hessam