Daughter raped by her own father wins £15,000 payout from police after officers initially dissuaded her from reporting him by telling her she would look like 'the biggest slag going'

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A woman raped by her father has won a payout and an apology from the police after officers told her she would look like ‘the biggest slag going’ if she reported him.

Carol Higgins, 55, finally ended a 39-year battle for justice after she was sexually abused by her father, Elliot Appleyard, now 76, when she was 13 years old.

He took her to a tattoo parlour to get his nickname tattooed on her shoulder – and put an engagement ring on her finger, telling her they’d ‘live happily ever after’.

The mother-of-two first reported Appleyard to the police in 1985 – and four more separate occasions stretching from 1984 to 2015. But it wasn’t until 2019 that he was jailed for 20 years for his crimes.

Ms Higgins says in 1985 she was told by police it would ‘blacken her name’ if she pursued a prosecution and would be considered ‘the biggest slag going’. 

She opened a civil court case against West Yorkshire Police four years ago – due to the way her case was handled between 2005 and 2019.

The force has now finally apologised for taking ‘too long’ to bring Appleyard to justice – and paid Ms Higgins £15,000 in compensation.

Carol Higgins (pictured) finally ended a 39 year battle for justice after she was sexually abused by her father, Elliot Appleyard, now 76, when she was 13 years old

Carol Higgins (pictured) finally ended a 39 year battle for justice after she was sexually abused by her father, Elliot Appleyard, now 76, when she was 13 years old

Appleyard (pictured) raped the vulnerable teenager between 1983 and 1985, Leeds Crown Court heard in 2019

Appleyard (pictured) raped the vulnerable teenager between 1983 and 1985, Leeds Crown Court heard in 2019

The police finally apologised for ‘taking too long’ to bring Carol’s ‘extremely serious and truthful allegations’ in December 2023.

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Carol, an author from Penistone, Barnsley, said: ‘The apology felt like a big relief, and a weight off my shoulders – after battling police for all this time.

‘I’m glad they’re making themselves accountable for how they treated me. It was a big thing, to have validation.

‘Living without that validation created a lot of negative energy inside me. Hopefully, now, I can let go of some of that anger.’

Appleyard raped the vulnerable teenager between 1983 and 1985, Leeds Crown Court heard in 2019.

A jury of seven women and four men took less than two hours to unanimously find Appleyard guilty of 15 charges following a seven-day trial.

The father-of-three was convicted of five counts of rape and 10 counts of indecent assault.

During the trial, Mr Hampton, prosecuting, said the abuse had ‘destroyed all of her adult life’ and she had received counselling for many years.

He said Appleyard, of Denby Dale, near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, ruled the household through violence and threats of beatings.

Jurors were shown a recorded police interview with Miss Higgins where she told officers her father ‘wanted to treat me like a wife’ and would ‘live together happily ever after’.

Appleyard was sentenced to 20 years in prison at Leeds Crown Court who heard Ms Higgins was treated as his wife after his real wife walked out

Appleyard was sentenced to 20 years in prison at Leeds Crown Court who heard Ms Higgins was treated as his wife after his real wife walked out

Ms Higgins said she was made to wear her father’s wife’s engagement ring.

Ms Higgins, who now lives in Ackworth, wrote an autobiography titled ‘Conquering the Impossible: Making the Dream Come True’ which was published in 2015.

Ms Higgins opened a civil court case – due to the way her case was handled between 2005 and 2019.

She went to the police twice, in 2005 and 2012 – before her case was finally investigated in 2015, and brought to trial in 2019.

As part of the settlement agreement, which included the written apology, Carol has been paid £15,000 by West Yorkshire Police.

The letter from John Robins, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police, says: ‘I write as Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police to offer my sincere apology for the way in which you have been treated over the last 39 years.

‘It is accepted that your extremely serious and truthful allegations took too long to come to justice, resulting in the delay of the prosecution of your abuser and this was not your fault.

‘It is a matter of profound regret that it took so long for your abuser to be convicted.’

The daughter reported the abuse to the police for the first time aged 15 in 1985

The daughter reported the abuse to the police for the first time aged 15 in 1985

But Carol says no amount will ever be enough to make up for the last 39 years.

‘The apology is welcome,’ she added.

‘But I think the £15,000 is a bit of a p**stake for all that time, energy and all those years. I’m still feeling the effects of that child abuse, now.

‘I’m feeling the pain of not having a father – all that grief and loss. What price do you put on it, really?

‘I fought them and won – that’s how I stood up to them.’

West Yorkshire Police said: ‘The Chief Constable has apologised directly to the complainant on behalf of West Yorkshire Police and given his personal reassurance that the Force has learned from the mistakes made in her case.’