When I first started this journey with Cheryl some months ago now, not for a second did I think this was ever anything to do with ‘Sugar & Spice’. Our story was fiction. True, it was based on extensive research and real-life events, but it was and still is, a made-up story.
When Cheryl first emailed offering her support after reading some negative reviews about the book, I was, of course, pleased that someone had finally understood the subliminal message and seen past the supposed ‘shock factor’ that many believe was the premise for the book. After exchanging numerous emails and now having met her in real life, this has become about much more than that.
Cheryl has become much more than another reader sending fan mail.
Today, Cheryl has sent me the final installment in her story. As I type this, I am consumed with an anger that knows no limits. Obvious anger at the animal at the centre of all this, who has forced Cheryl and her family to endure this living hell (but as Cheryl says, he doesn’t deserve such intense emotion, so I won’t dwell on that), at a failed justice? system and so-called support network that let them down so badly and anger at society in general, for continuing to kick these kind of stories like muck under the carpet, whistle and walk away, pretending that it isn’t there and no-one will see it.
BUT, most of all, my anger is directed at at person who I don’t even know and nor do you. Unfortunately, you will never know who that person is, but let’s just say, this person has let this family down just as badly, if not more, than everyone else involved in this case.
Cheryl knows who they are and I hope one day, they do too.
Anyway, here’s Cheryl’s final email, totally unedited (as she threatened to kill me if I did):
I received a phone call yesterday from the CPS Lawyer to explain to me why she felt they could not carry on with the proceedings, although to be honest i couldn’t take it all in on the phone so she said she would pop it in the post and I could read it through and get back to her if I had any questions. I will copy you the letter word for word so you can make your own decisions!‘Firstly, thank you for telling ********** police about what happened to your daughter Amy. I recognise how difficult it can be to report sexual offences. As a result of police enquiries ******** was arrested for a sexual assault on Amy and the police carried out their investigations. The police have now finished their inquiries and I have carefully considered all of the evidence.
I have reached the conclusion that there is not enough evidence to prosecute the suspect for an offence and I have decided to stop the case.
In considering this case, I watched in its entirety the video recorded interview which was made with Amy. I also watched the video interview with your other daughter, Lily, as well as reading all of the statements and evidential material provided by the police. I want you to know that I considered the case very carefully in order to assess the position properly and in the light of all of the evidence.
Some cases are easier than others, for example if there is medical or forensic evidence to lend support to what is said, or where there is an eye witness to confirm the victim’s account. This was not such a case. If I had proceeded, it would have had to have been on the basis of what Amy herself said in her video interview. Sadly, her account was just not sufficiently detailed to give a clear picture of exactly what happened. Even making allowances for Amy’s age and the fact that it must have been very difficult for her to speak to a stranger about what had happened, I was not satisfied that her evidence was strong enough to satisfy the evidential test.
From the video evidence it was just not clear where precisely Amy had been touched, whether it was under or over clothing, how long it lasted or in what circumstances it came about. Moreover, as she described what happened as a “scratch”, this made the situation even more unclear, as she never explained what she meant by this. This term, of course, has a innocent, non sexual meaning in usual circumstance.
The final problem was the fact that nothing was said by Amy at the time.
Give the various difficulties with the evidence, I was not satisfied that there was a realistic prospect of conviction and I therefore stopped the case. It is important that you know that in deciding whether or not to prosecute I based my decision on what we could prove at court and not, as people often assume, whether I believed Amy’s account.’
The reason I first approached Saffina after I read her book was because it had got criticism, which in every walk off life we receive, its part of being human and not all agreeing! But Saffina was brave writing the book, she is a sassy and clever lady who thinks outside the box and instead of being judged for this, she needs to be praised.
Sugar and Spice was fictional, but it does happen and i wanted people to know that there are normal people out there experiencing awful things. I will now get on with my life and give my daughter all the love and support in the world any child deserves and until the police close in on these despicable and disgusting things (i can’t call them humans) it is the job for people like Saffina to bring this into our living rooms and let us know that this does exist… it does happen and too many people shy away from sexual abuse and cause it to be such a taboo subject that absentmindedly we allow it to happen.
Cheryl, whilst we thank you for your support of the book and your kind words, I think if people were to look up the definition of bravery, it wouldn’t have my name underneath it.
I sign off with one final comment and one that I ended my last email to Cheryl with:
Thank you for writing this and entrusting me with your story. I am sorry that you and your family ever had to go through this, but if there was one good thing to come out of it all, it is this: you have a new friend for life.
- Sugar & Spice: The real facts behind things not so nice… a reader’s story. (saffinadesforgesblog.com)