Leeds & West Yorkshire

Dad Elliott Appleyard who treated daughter as 'wife' jailed

Elliott Appleyard Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption Elliott Appleyard, 71, abused his daughter when she was in her early teenage years

A father who repeatedly raped and abused his teenage daughter has been jailed for 20 years.

Elliott Appleyard, 71, raped Carol Higgins "three or four times a week" as a teenager in the 1980s .

Leeds Crown Court heard how Appleyard, of Gilthwaites Crescent, Denby Dale, treated Miss Higgins, who has waived her right to anonymity, as his "wife".

Miss Higgins said in a statement he took her "childhood away from me and treated me like a slave".

In the victim impact statement read out to the court at sentencing, the 49-year-old said she would rather have been raped on the street "because at least then I'd have had my family to support me".

"He'd try to make me feel like it was normal, he said other friends did it with their fathers," she said.

Appleyard was found guilty on Thursday of 15 sexual offences committed when his daughter was aged between 14 and 15.

'Stole my innocence'

"When I was an innocent little girl I loved and trusted you," the statement added.

"Gradually you stole my innocence and took advantage of my trust in you."

She added: "For 35 years you made me suffer the loss of my father and my family."

Miss Higgins told the court during Appleyard's trial how he had taken her to a tattoo parlour in Barnsley to have a declaration of love tattooed on her shoulder.

She said he had also taken photos of her in her underwear and made her put his wife's engagement ring on her finger.

Image caption Carol Higgins, pictured outside Leeds Crown Court with her partner Del Powell shortly after Appleyard's conviction

Outside court Miss Higgins, who emerged from the building to a round of applause from friends and family, said: "I feel that justice has been served and I couldn't be happier."

Passing sentence, Judge Rodney Jameson QC said: "She was a vulnerable child, partly because of your violence towards her, partly because of violence she witnessed by you towards her mother.

"You abused her repeatedly - essentially for 12 months you treated her as your wife.

"You used her for sex and abused her physically, as you did with your [actual] wife."

'Appalling catalogue of abuse'

Miss Higgins said she was also raped by Appleyard in a cabin while they were on board a Scandinavian cruise ship.

In a police interview she told officers her father "wanted to treat me like a wife" and would "live together happily ever after".

During the trial, the court heard Miss Higgins first reported the abuse to police in 1985, but was told it would "blacken her name" if she pursued it.

West Yorkshire Police said it is investigating a complaint relating to the case but was unable to comment further.

Supt Richard Crinnion said Appleyard was responsible for "an appalling catalogue of sexual abuse" and had betrayed the trust of those around him "in the most extreme way".

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