A woman named Sarah Bennett, aged 50 and from Cardiff, called the police in 2021 to confess to sexually abusing two young girls in her 20s. One of the girls was repeatedly indecently assaulted by Bennett, who even abused her after becoming aroused from a rape scene in a film.
After giving up drinking and turning to religion, Bennett brought her sexual offences to the attention of the authorities. The police contacted one of the victims, who agreed to bring charges against Bennett, while the second victim did not wish to.
During the sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, it was revealed that the abuse began when the first victim was just 12 years old. Bennett groomed her by giving her cider and money, and the victim developed a crush on her after Bennett told her she had feelings for her.
The first incident of sexual abuse occurred when Bennett kissed the victim’s hand and mouth. Bennett would often hug the victim, who described herself as “needy for affection”. The abuse escalated to Bennett taking off the victim’s shorts before sexually abusing her.
On another occasion, Bennett touched the victim’s breasts before pulling down her tights and touching her privates. The victim described the actions of Bennett as “forceful and painful”. The abuse carried on “every time the opportunity presented itself”. Bennett would give the victim pints of cider and was verbally abusive towards her, calling her a “slag”.
The victim felt isolated and described herself as “just wanting to die”. Despite wanting the abuse to stop, she felt conflicted as Bennett made her “feel special”. The victim began to cut herself with a piece of broken mirror, and her stomach would “knot up” when Bennett was verbally abusive.
During the hearing, the victim who was contacted by the police agreed to bring charges against Bennett. The second victim, however, did not wish to press charges.
On another occasion, Bennett and the victim were watching a film when the defendant became sexually aroused by a rape scene. She threw the victim onto the ground and sexually assaulted her. The abuse continued for a number of years, the victim describing herself as “scared and frightened” when the defendant was in drink, and she began drinking regularly herself. When the victim made new friends, Bennett grabbed her by throat and smashed up her belongings.
The victim said she later realised Bennett had been “controlling” and realised “how wrong” the abuse had been. She later told police: “It wasn’t a caring loving relationship. It was a very controlling relationship. She had a hold on me for a long time. I didn’t see my family for years and didn’t have any confidence in myself or self esteem. I suffer with anxiety which affects me and bothers me.”
Matters came to ahead in 2021 when Bennett contacted the police and disclosed the abuse of two girls, including the victim. She said she felt “terrible” and needed to confess. She also described herself as a “different person” after giving up alcohol. When police arrived at her home to arrest her, she left a note.
It read: “Dear Sir/Madam, I confess when I was in my 20s I had a relationship with two teenage girls….. I have hated myself with a passion for year. It seems like a different person or lifetime. The shame and guilt remains within. I am truly sorry.”
Bennett, of Pen y Bryn Way, Gabalfa, later pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent assault of a child. The court heard she was of previous good character.
In mitigation, Adam Sharp said the matters would not have come to light had she not confessed to the police, having been “riddled with guilt” and wishing to atone. He said the defendant was from a “traditional and religious family” but suffered trauma in her childhood and left the family home before going on to work as an auxiliary nurse and a delivery driver. He said was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and had been clean from alcohol for eight years.
Sentencing, Judge Lucy Crowther said: “You have overcome serious illness and overcome addiction and reconciled with your mother. You did what many wouldn’t do. You had the courage to ring the police and tell them something that was not previously known. I accept you are overwhelmed with remorse for what you have done.”
Bennett was sentenced to a total of three years imprisonment. She was also made subject to sex offender notification requirements and a restraining order indefinitely, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 20 years.