The word PEDO was daubed in bright red paint across the wall of number 72 Bridgend Lane. Even more sinister were the blackened windows and charred interior of this once conventional terraced house. The owner, a balding man in his late 50s, burned to death in the living room. Police records concluded that he had accidentally set fire to himself whilst filling a petrol lighter. Locals knew better. Apparently Mr David Evans — a retired schoolteacher from this underachieving town — was attacked by enraged residents, doused with lighter fluid and set alight. The perpetrators held the living room door closed, locking him in while he burned.
So who was the real Mr Evans? He presented himself as a charming, well dressed, well spoken individual, always available to help and advise. Beneath this façade of respectability there lurked a depraved monster driven by compulsions he could not control.
But you can only be deceitful for so long. He had a good run, perhaps as long as a decade or more before his misdemeanours caught up with him. People had their suspicions. Neighbours warned of goings-on, but nobody really took any notice. Until one distressed but brave child sobbed the truth to her parents. In graphic detail she told them how he plied her friends — girls and boys with drinks, sweets and money and then cajoled them into having sex, often with two or three at the same time. Brothers and sisters, friends, pupils from his old school, all fell victim to his advances. Some were as young as eleven years old.
The effects of those awful times are evident today in the lives of adults whose childhoods were scarred by this deviant man. Many of his victims suffer deep psychological problems: depression, low self-esteem, self-harm, dysfunctionality and anger. They blame themselves as well as him. Why did I allow myself to be manipulated? Why did I have sex when I could have just walked away? Why didn’t I say anything to anybody? Who is to blame here? If I’d have said no then he could not have done what he did. It’s all my fault? These people must accept they are not to blame. Until they do they will never be free. The past cannot be undone. Evans is dead and buried. It is time to bury the past, too, and heal those psychological wounds.