Sheffield rape survivor fears for safety of others when 'psychopath' attacker is released from prison mid-way through sentence
A woman who was held captive and raped in a seven hour ordeal in Sheffield fears for the safety of others when her attacker is released from prison next month – mid-way through a 12 year sentence.
Benjamin Recio-Nugent, now aged 31, was jailed for 12 years in 2016 but after serving one year on remand and five years of his sentence, he is eligible for early release from prison next month.
He repeatedly raped his victim in his flat on Shirebrook Road, Meersbrook.
During her ordeal she had piping hot water poured over her and a sock stuffed into her mouth to stifle her screams.
Laura, was 26 years old when her life was forever changed by the actions of Recio-Nugent, who she branded a ‘psychopath’.
Now 32 and having completed a masters in law in a determined effort to help other survivors of sex attacks, Laura is calling for all rapists to be forced to serve their full prison sentences behind bars rather than being automatically eligible for early release mid-way through.
A petition has now been set up, backed by Laura, which urges the Government to change the law.
If her attacker is released, Laura wants his movements to be restricted, with a ban on him visiting Sheffield.
She is in talks with the probation service about a city-wide exclusion zone.
Laura, who knew her attacker before he raped her, accepted an invite to visit him on her way home from a night out when he pounced – a decision which changed the course of her life.
She branded her attacker a ‘psychopath,’ ‘devoid of human emotion’ and said he could easily have killed her.
Laura said: “I think I am still in denial that he will shortly be released and there will be a strong possibility of me having to come face to face with him. I don't even know what to say about that to be honest. How do you even deal with that? Coming face to face with someone that held you captive and tortured you? It's just unimaginable.
“For some time I have been in talks with the probation service about an exclusion zone and I have found it very frustrating. I don't see why it is so unreasonable to expect the psychopath that subjected me to such degrading, humiliating, physical pain, who could very easily have killed me, be inconvenienced by having to live in a different part of the country to the person he did that to.
“I feel like six years in prison from a 12 year sentence is nothing to the amount of devastation he caused me and those closest to me.
“The sentencing guidelines clearly are not harsh enough for such a crime. The guidelines clearly do not reflect the devastation caused by sexual assault to the victims and the families.”
Because her attacker denied rape and claimed the sex had been consensual, Laura said she was forced to endure accusations in her local community that she had lied.
“I think one of the hardest things I've had to deal with is the amount of lies that have been spread about me in my local area. I had always been such a private person, so I found this really difficult. Everyone in the local area seemed to have an opinion. You become known as just the ‘girl who got raped’ or worse still ‘the girl who lied about being raped’. It detracts from who you are as a person, devalues you as a human to a lot of people,” she said.
“I had to deal with a lot of hatred, hearing how people I barely know were discussing me in the local pubs, people that know nothing about what really happened.
“I went through stages of wanting to hide away and other times where I felt it was necessary that I show my face, that I defend myself.”
She added: “The majority of people have no idea about the criminal court system, they do not understand how difficult it is to secure a guilty verdict in a rape case even if the police and the prosecution know 100 per cent that the defendant is guilty. It has definitely changed me as a person.”
Laura said: “For a long time, I found that very difficult to accept, that I didn't feel like 'me' anymore. Those first few years after what had happened and after the trial were incredibly difficult, I wasn't okay but me being not okay was making things worse for the people closest to me. It affected so many of my relationships with family and friends, and I resented what a huge impact it had on my entire life.
“Most days now, I feel more accepting of it. It took me a long time but I am finally at a point where I have realised I shouldn't feel ashamed about what happened. The only thing I'm guilty of is trying to help and support someone who, I now believe, is incapable of help because he is devoid of real human emotion, I truly believe he is a psychopath.
“So now I try to use what happened to fuel me to help create positive change, to support others that have survived sexual assault. I try now to stay upbeat and positive and keep moving forward and I'm not under any illusion, not having to worry about bumping into him has allowed me, to a certain extent, to pretend he doesn't exist.”
She said: “It has changed the course of my life. It definitely influenced me and I now want to dedicate my life to a career that contributes to the prosecution of violent sex offenders.”
Recalling the trial she was forced to attend to give evidence against her attacker, Laura said: “Everything is geared towards the human rights of the offender. At the court case it was acceptable that my character be attacked, the clothes I wore when he attacked me be debated, for the defence to paint me as the villain. Yet there was so much that could not be brought up about the defendant by the prosecution.
“In my opinion, rape is as serious a crime as murder. The impact is life changing and destroys a lot of lives. I am fortunate enough to have a very good support network around me or I wouldn't have got through it, not everyone is that lucky.
“I realise that this petition may be too late to prevent me from having to deal with coming face to face with my attacker but if I can prevent others from going through that, I will do everything I possibly can to achieve this.
“A city-wide exclusion zone will also help me, in terms of I will feel safer. However, I am also conscious of the fact that a violent sex offender will be walking the streets, even if they're not my local streets, they will be the local streets of other women. I am scared for others, I don't want any other woman going through what I went through at his hands.”
To sign the petition visit the change.org website.