Kenneth Barnes – Wythenshawe

October 2018

Becky was just four when she was sexually abused by her foster carer

Becky Burgess was just four years-old when she was sexually assaulted by her foster carer in his garden shed.

Her attacker, Kenneth Barnes, was 54 years her senior at the time.

He would tell Becky that she had been naughty and banned her from playing with her friends, before sexually abusing her at his home in Wythenshawe.

Barnes went on to abuse Becky on a regular basis for the next two years, until she left his care.

Even at such a young age, she knew instinctively that what was happening to her was wrong.

But she feared that if she came forward, nobody would believe her, and so her abuser’s crimes went undetected.

Becky was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and Post Traumatic Distress Syndrome, following the trauma of her ordeal.

Even after reaching adulthood, she was still reluctant to come forward, as she felt the case’s historic nature would hinder the criminal process.

Becky was wrong.

Two decades after the abuse, Kenneth Barnes – now 79 – has been jailed.

He was sentenced to nine years in jail after a jury saw through his lies and convicted him of seven counts of sexual assault.

Speaking publicly for the first time, at the age of 26, Becky said she hopes her story will inspire other victims to come forward.

Of the moment a jury convicted Barnes, Becky, who has waived her right to anonymity, said: “It was a complete blur.

“I was shocked. I couldn’t believe that I had actually been listened to.

“I was in denial for so long that anything would come out of reporting him to the police – but it did.”

Becky was placed into the Manchester care system when she was just 18-months-old – along with her sister and two brothers – after her mother fell ill.

When she was four, Becky was split up from her siblings and placed into the care of Kenneth Barnes, and his late wife Joyce.

She doesn’t remember day-to-day life in the Barnes household, but she does have a distinct memory – the dingy shed at the side of is house.

That is where Barnes would assault Becky, up to three times a week, for the next two years.

“I always had an incling it was wrong,” Becky said.

“I wanted to tell someone, and so many times I went to approach a teacher at school – but I just couldn’t.

“I didn’t feel good about myself at all.”

Becky was removed from the Barnes’ household shortly after her sixth birthday, when she was fostered by her uncle.

She remained in the care system and would often get in trouble with the police, after becoming a ‘rebellious child’.

From as young as seven, Becky suffered with mental ill-health and regularly attended counselling sessions.

She remained in the care system until the age of 21.

Becky says she has found it hard to settle as a result of her ordeal.

The abuse Barnes inflicted on her remained a secret for 21 years until she finally told her mother.

“As soon as my mother found about it she rang the police,” Becky said.

“The police called me and asked me if I wanted to formally report it, but I couldn’t at first because I didn’t want it out there in the open.

“You see it all the time where men and women like that just get away with it.

“I never thought he’d actually be punished for what he did to me.”

Becky’s mum persuaded her to come forward, and in May 2017, she formally made an allegation to GMP.

She provided police with a video interview and Barnes was arrested later that evening.

He continued to deny his crimes and elected to go to trial at Manchester Crown Court.

Becky was subsequently forced to take to the witness stand and recall the horrific events to a room full of strangers.

“It was so scary, but it needed to be done,” Becky said.

“It was difficult for me as I was asked to look at photos from that shed – the shed I hadn’t seen since I was six.”

The jury believed her story.

Now Kenneth Barnes will serve a lengthy prison sentence and remain on the sex offender register for life.

Becky, who now lives with her partner Claire and her three young children, says that her faith in the criminal justice system has been restored. She is now calling for other victims to come forward.

“I just want other victims to come forward and report what has happened to them,” she added.

“I hope my case proves sexual assault victims can come forward and get justice

“A lot of people feel with historic cases that it’s not going to go anywhere, but my case proves that it can.”

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