A RAPE victim who was attacked on Valentine’s Day more than 15 years ago has spoken about the 'tsunami effect' the attacker had on her life after finally seeing him jailed.

Liam Jack Grey, also known as Liam Imeson, raped his victim, who was then aged just 16, on a bench in Gateshead on February 14, 2004.

His victim had agreed to go shopping with Grey, who had just turned 17, saying she felt sorry for him when he said he had no one to spend his birthday with.

But the events of that day forever changed his victim’s life, seeing her spend her youth isolated and unable to trust.

The incident was originally reported to police in 2004 and a file was presented to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but Grey was not charged.

In 2018, after new information came to light, Northumbria Police reviewed and resubmitted the case to the CPS for further consideration and Grey was charged with one count of rape.

The 32-year-old pleaded not guilty to the offence but was convicted at Newcastle Crown Court on September 26 after a six-day trial.

And on December 19, 2019, he was sentenced to five years behind bars for the offence of rape and, in a separate case, an additional four months after pleading guilty to attempting to send a sexual communication to someone he believed to be a 13-year-old child.

Reflecting on the attack and its lifelong knock-on effects, his victim told the court: “I felt sorry for him and he repaid my kindness by hurting me in one of the worst ways a person can.

“Before the rape I was fairly naïve and carefree, I’d had a lovely, quiet sheltered upbringing.

“Now, I’m fairly negative always looking for the pitfall, holding onto a sense that things will go wrong.

“My life as a carefree teenager enjoying myself effectively stopped on 14th February 2004. I feel like he stole those types of precious memories from me.

“I should have gone on to enjoy college and university; I should have been out enjoying myself and meeting new people, making new experiences. Instead I retreated into myself.

“Rape is not something that you can ever get over, it’s a life sentence and something which I still to this day have not been able to learn to live with.

“His behaviour has had a tsunami effect over my life.”

Detective Constable Lynne Thompson-Hogg, of Northumbria Police's safeguarding department, led on the investigation and said: "It has been a long investigation and very traumatic for the victim but we never gave up and she now has the justice she deserves.

"Grey has continued to deny the rape for more than 15 years, leaving his victim to suffer for so long.

"I hope this conviction gives his victim some sense of solace that the man who raped her has faced the consequences of his actions."

Anyone who has been a victim of rape, sexual assault or abuse, recent or historic, is asked to contact police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency.

To contact the 24/7 Crisis Helpline contact 03333-448283 or find out about Sexual Assault Referral Centres search REACH SARC online.