Febuary 2010

Paedophile Stewart Beddall died in Wakefield Prison

A WOMAN who was abused by the stepfather, whom she once considered her ‘hero’, says she feels closure now that he has died.

Four years ago Stewart Beddall, of Hinton Crescent, in Appleton, was found guilty of four counts of indecent assault and two counts of rape against his stepdaughter, Stephanie Wright.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He died on January 22, aged 60, in Wakefield Prison, a year short of being eligible for parole.

Stephanie, now aged 29, said: “I felt mixed emotions when I heard he had died. I felt relief that I don’t have to live in fear any more and that he is not going to hurt anybody else.

“I feel angry in a way that he has not served his full sentence. I wanted him to admit what he did, he would have had to admit his crimes to get parole.

“I was really shocked that he had died. I thought it was a wind-up.”

Stephanie, an NVQ teacher and assessor in beauty retail and management, said she waived her legal right to anonymity after Beddall was convicted so the people of Warrington knew what he had done to her and to give others abused the courage to go to the police.

She said: “He was my hero. But he groomed me. He was the dad I always wanted and he treated me like a princess.

“The abuse started when I was 13. At the time I didn’t think he was doing anything wrong because I thought it was daddy’s love. He would touch my love handles and say they were his little puppies.”

She said the paedophile’s reign of terror continued throughout her teens and he went on to rape her.

“I was 21 years old and I was still scared of saying anything to anyone.

“He said he would kill me if it ever came out and said my mum wouldn’t believe me because she needed him more than me,” she said.

Beddall was proved right, she says, as the majority of her family turned their backs on her when she told people her childhood secret.

While pregnant with her son Jack, now aged five, she read the book Little Prisoner. The book, about a woman abused by her stepfather, made her realise that her experiences mirrored the author’s and it gave her the strength to press charges.

Stephanie, who moved away from Warrington to rebuild her life, said: “If somebody is in the same situation it doesn’t matter how long ago it happened – the Crown Prosecution Service can still get a conviction. It is like a jigsaw – if it is the truth it will all piece together.

“As long as one person comes forward after hearing my story, I would be happy.”

She added: “There are times when I feel like my childhood has been taken away but there are no good memories to miss.

“I have been to hell and back. It has taken me four years to rebuild my life and I am getting stronger and stronger.

“My family has supported him right to the end. It hurts me to say it but I am better off without the people who supported him. I have to live with what he did. My life begins now.”

She said counselling and therapy have helped her to move on.