A RELIEVED rape victim has outlined why coming forward and reporting the abuse to police was the best thing she could have done.

The woman was present in court as her four childhood abusers were collectively jailed for more than half a century.

Colin Ankers, Philip Taylor, Paul Cavner and Darren Smith subjected the young girl to a horrifying campaign of rape and other indecent assault, stealing her childhood, as she was prostituted out by another man.

The quartet were found guilty of the litany of sex offences after a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, in May, and have now received their punishment in sentences of between 21 years and six years in jail.

The victim, who is entitled to lifelong anonymity, has praised Detective Constable Jaclyn Younger and members of Northumbria Police’s safeguarding team for helping her seek justice for the years of abuse she suffered as a child.

She came forward to police in 2016 and has now explained how this has changed her life for the better.

“It was so difficult going back through the abuse and trying to remember dates, years and ages.

“Mentally these are things I have tried to suppress and block out. I was made to feel like a liar.

“The trial has been very difficult for me but it’s the closure that I need to be able to move on with my life.

“I have had to do this for me and I’m proud of myself.

“This had to be reported to police and investigated as a way to give myself a fresh start in life and move on from my horrendous past.

“I have done this for me and only me so I can move on.

“I feel like I have been given a voice and have been believed by the police when I reported this in 2016.

“They have not judged me and have given me support throughout the whole process.”

The victim wrote to Det Con Younger during the trial to thank her for her support and was pleased she came forward to police, regardless of the outcome at court.

She said: “No matter what the verdict, I’ve done this for me and only me, no one else, so I can move on.

“I can’t thank you and your team enough for all you have done – the support and not judging me and being just brilliant. Thank you so much.

“You and your team deserve the recognition for all of the hours of hard work and help and support you have given as without it, I couldn’t have done it.”

“I know it's your job however, you have done so much for me and I couldn't have done it without you.

“You were patient with me, never judged me or rushed me, and were always willing to listen no matter how long it took me to get what I needed to say out.

“Thank you for just being brilliant. All you have done, the hours, the stress, you have been through on my behalf, you have allowed me to be free and can now live my life.”

Detective Chief Superintendent Scott Hall, head of safeguarding, commended Det Con Younger in helping the justice achieve justice.

“What a result!

“Most importantly, what an outcome for this brave, brave, victim.

“She has endured evil, sickening, abuse at the hands of these men but to speak out and stand strong against these rapists is incredible.

“To see that Jaclyn and the team have made such an impact on the victim's life makes me so proud.

“Nobody said this job was easy and it is tough but when I see results like this, and such positive feedback from victims, it just reminds us all why we are here.

“Well done, Jaclyn. You have changed this victim’s life.

“There is no bigger reward than that. Thank you.”

Ankers, 46, of Waterville Road, North Shields, was found guilty of 14 counts of rape and four counts of indecent assault. He was jailed for 21 years with an extended licence period of a further year.

Taylor, 61, of Whiteley Avenue, Sowerby, West Yorkshire, was convicted of three counts of rape on the main victim and four counts of indecent assault on another girl. He was jailed for 17 years.

Cavner, 55, of Crofton Street, Blyth, who was found guilty of one count of rape and one of indecent assault, was jailed for nine years.

Smith, 36, of Irene Avenue, Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for six years after being convicted of five counts of rape and five of indecent assault.

Victims of rape, sexual assault or exploitation, whether recent or historic, can report it to Northumbria Police on 101, or 999 in an emergency.

The 24/7 Crisis Helpline can be accessed via (03333) 448283.

Further information on the force’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre is available online through REACH SARC.

The Victims First Northumbria service is also available, on 0800-011 3116 for independent advice and support.