A RAPE victim gave crucial evidence at trial to convict her abuser – who had evaded justice for more than 30 years – with the help of support measures to allow her to feel safe in court.

Evan Jones, 67, of Dre-Fach Felindre, was found guilty of two offences of rape and nine of sexual assault – all dating back to the 1980s – at a trial in October. He was acquitted of a further count of rape.

All of the charges involved the same victim, who was between the ages of eight and 11 at the time. The defendant was aged between 28 and 32.

“He stole my innocence,” the victim told the court, via a statement read out by prosecutor Craig Jones at the sentencing hearing. “That I can never get back.”

Investigating officer Damon Watmough said the courage of the victim, and supporting her so that she felt safe to give evidence, had been key to the outcome of the case.

“After all these years, the thought of having to face her abuser in court was understandably anxiety-provoking for the victim,” said Detective Constable Watmough.

“Her evidence was crucial to this case, and thankfully we were able to work with the courts to ensure she was protected by a screen throughout proceedings, enabling her to feel safe while speaking about what happened.

“Screens are just one of the special measures available to help support victims and witnesses to give evidence during traumatic cases, and they can make all the difference.”

Jones was sentenced on October 26 to a minimum of 15 years in prison, with a further year on licence. He was also made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

“It is difficult to come forward when things have been bottled up for so long, but I hope this outcome demonstrates to others who have experienced historic abuse that it is never too late to speak out,” DC Watmough said.

“We'll do everything we can to gather evidence and build a case, no matter how long ago the crime took place, and will support you throughout the whole process.”

As well as screens, other protective measures include the ability to give evidence via live video link, the removal of wigs and gowns by judges and barristers, and communication aids to help those with disabilities. These can be granted with the agreement of the court.

Details of support services and how to report a sexual offence, including non-recent incidents, can be found at bit.ly/reportsexualoffences.

If you have been a victim of a crime, report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.police.uk, or by calling 101.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired, text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org