‘Victim-blaming’ rapist jailed after campaign for justice by victim’s daughter
A “wicked” rapist whose 13-year-old victim became pregnant in the 1970s has been jailed decades after the crime, following a successful prosecution pursued by his victim’s daughter.
Carvel Bennett (pictured), now 74, admitted having sex with the youngster more than 40 years ago, but claimed at his trial that she had seduced him and consented, telling him she was 16.
He was convicted by a Birmingham Crown Court jury in less than two hours, and jailed for 11 years on Tuesday.
Giving evidence at his trial, unapologetic Bennett was asked if he owed anything to his victim, and replied: “I don’t feel I have to apologise to her. I don’t feel I have done anything to her.”
Judge Martin Hurst, sentencing, told Bennett, who had no previous convictions, he had engaged in “victim-blaming” at the trial, adding: “You hold her responsible for your wicked act.”
He said the jury had seen through the rapist’s “ridiculous” claim that the victim had instigated sex, having “concocted evidence” for the trial.
The judge said: “Your behaviour that day has ruined at least two lives and I hope you spend time in prison considering it.”
Bennett, of Hansons Bridge Road, Birmingham, did not react as he was sentenced.
The victim had turned 14 by the time she gave birth to a baby girl, who was fostered and later put up for adoption.
DNA results proved Bennett was the father, though he had denied paternity at the time of the offence and during the new police investigation in 2019.
The fresh inquiry only took place after the victim’s now adult daughter campaigned for the case to be investigated.
In court she was praised by the judge who said she had “pursued justice in this case for herself and her mother, doggedly and with determination”.
The judge said the authorities, including police and social services, had been told of the offence in the 1970s, but felt “brushing it under the carpet” was the way to handle the accusation.
He said a “harrowing note from social services” at the time showed the victim’s mother “immediately disowned her” after discovering she was pregnant.
The child was placed into adoption with a family of a different ethnic background, the judge added.
Judge Hurst said the victim’s daughter, who only discovered the truth when her files were released to her on her 18th birthday, “met many closed doors, and essentially she had to persuade her mother to relive the trauma” to get a successful prosecution.
“Pursuit of justice must be commended and I do commend her for taking those steps, and I can only encourage others to do the same,” the judge said.
A powerful victim impact statement on behalf of Bennett’s victim was read in court, in which she remembered being told to “say nothing”, adding: “I knew no-one would care or believe me.”
She was told to “go back to school as normal” immediately after the birth.
“I had no support and was scared – I was left to deal with it alone,” she said.
“To be raped, pregnant and give birth was traumatic and horrendous for me.
“People told me how disgusting I was, being pregnant as a child. I was carrying his shame, although for me, the shame was also mine.”
Bennett’s daughter read her own impact statement in court, telling him as he sat yards away in the dock: “Carvel Bennett, you have caused total carnage.
“Your act of violence decimated any potential relationship between my birth mother and I because you chose to rape a child.”
At times emotional, she charted the years of upset after his crime.
Addressing Bennett, wearing glasses and a mask, and leaning forward with his left hand to his ear, she told him he had “evaded justice” for years.
“You have got to have a ‘family life’,” she said.
“You had the opportunity to get married, have children, live with those children and watch them grow up.”
She spoke of the “devastation” her mother must have felt at being separated from her daughter in hospital, and how “another bond and attachment was broken” a few months later when she herself was moved from foster care to adoption.
The victim’s daughter also spoke of “times spent wondering who I looked like, why I wasn’t with my birth mother, why hadn’t I been wanted – with no one to share those feelings with”.
She said: “Because you chose to rape a child I have had my birth identity stolen from me on my maternal and paternal sides.
“What has been passed down to me is intergenerational trauma – a family heirloom I’d rather not have.”
She spoke of making the “horrifying” discovery about her background, at the age of 18, and “to know that I am, for some, the embodiment of one of the worst things that could happen to someone”.
But she added: “I am more than evidence, I am more than a witness, I am more than a ‘product’ of rape.
“I am not your shame and I will not carry the shame and horror of what you chose to do.”
Speaking afterwards, the victim’s daughter, who cannot be identified to protect her mother’s identity, said she was “pleased” and “relieved”, adding it “should not have taken more than 40 years for a child rapist to be away from children in Birmingham”.
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