WHEN Jane Marlor’s mum got together with a semi-professional footballer, she thought it would be fun.
Instead, former Workington A.F.C star Graham Gill turned her life into a living hell.
While he played over 300 games for the club, as well as others across the north west, he was sexually abusing Jane, starting when she was just six years old.
By the time she was 11, the vile beast was raping her.
Threatening her into silence as he made her his sex slave, Gill’s relentless abuse lasted a decade.
Jane eventually escaped his clutches, but struggled with the burden of her dark secret and turned to drink to cope.
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After hitting rock bottom, Jane found the strength to expose Gill’s crimes, and with the support of her daughter and partner she finally got justice.
Earlier this year a jury at Preston Crown Court found Gill, now 66, guilty of 10 counts of indecent assault, four counts of rape and two other sexual offences, and he was jailed for 21 years.
Waiving her right to anonymity to share her harrowing story with The Sun, Jane, now 51, from Lancashire said: “He’s a total monster.
“He stole my childhood and destroyed half my life – but I’ll not let him destroy me.”
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Jane was five when her mum began dating Gill, and she instantly liked him.
She recalled: “We went on holiday to the Lake District and it was fun.
“I told my friends that he was a semi-pro football player and they were impressed.
“They loved it when he joined us for a kick about.”
Then one evening when Gill was over, Jane was in bed asleep when she felt her blanket being pulled back.
She recalled: “He did something strange. He slid his hand down inside my nightie and I felt it over my chest and tummy.
“As I stared up at him in the dark he whispered, ‘Ssh’. I was only 6 and didn’t understand.’
Soon Gill’s night-time visits became a regular occurrence.
Jane said: “Whenever Mum was asleep he’d come in and touch me. He’d make me touch him, too. He acted so casually I thought it was normal.”
Other times she told how Gill’s mood would switch in an instant and he’d get really angry.
She said: “Once I was hungry so I took a banana from the fruit bowl and ate it. He went nuts, spitting in my face with rage.
I screamed for my mum. But Graham just carried on. Afterwards I sobbed into the pillow
“Other times he’d shout at me to do the washing up.”
Jane grew scared of him and as her fear escalated, so did the abuse.
She said: “One night after he abused me, he said if I told anyone he’d kill me and my mum. I was terrified.”
But Gill was just warming up for his next move.
Jane’s mum, now married to the beast, had gone away for a few days, leaving her daughter alone with him.
“I was in my bedroom playing Adam Ant records when he came in and ordered me to go into their bedroom,” Jane recalled.
“Grabbing my arms he pinned me down onto the bed and raped me. I was only 11.
“I screamed for my mum. But Graham just carried on. Afterwards as I sobbed into the pillow he said, ‘I’m sorry about all of this.’ But he wasn’t sorry.”
Haunted by Match of the Day
Jane told how she began to dread Fridays and Saturdays when he’d “come home drunk after playing a match and help himself to me”.
“I got to hate the sound of Match of the Day on TV, it always reminded me of him,” she said.
One night Jane tried putting up a fight and kicked Gill between the legs.
As he swore at her she shot out of the door without her coat and ran barefoot in the snow to her nan’s house two miles away.
She recalled: “She wasn’t in so I had to go home where he was waiting for me. He was always waiting, ready to pounce.”
I got to hate the sound of Match of the Day on TV, it always reminded me of him
The only person Jane dared tell about the abuse was her best friend Judy.
Jane said: “She was horrified and urged me to tell an adult, but I felt too scared.
“Who would believe me? Graham was a hero on the pitch – people didn’t realise he was a monster behind closed doors.”
Jane said the only time she felt free was when she played tennis.
“I loved it and was good too, playing in competitions and county trials,” she recalled. “But Graham would try to stop me from going.
“He’d tell me I was a loser before locking me in my room.”
By the time Jane was 14 she was struggling, drinking alcohol and getting into fights at school.
When she was 16 it all came to a head. She said: “Judy and I were in our school play, The Wizard of Oz, and I was the Good Fairy. But I was black and blue from where Graham had battered me.
“I held it together for the show but afterwards broke down and Judy begged me to speak to the teacher.”
This time Jane agreed. Horrified, her teacher took action and Jane was sent to live with her real dad and his partner.
She said: “I felt relieved but the damage had been done. I felt dirty and ashamed.
“I’d self-harm and drink to try to block it all out.”
Because of Gill’s abuse, Jane struggled to have proper relationships with men, but fell pregnant and had daughter Gabbi, now 26.
Jane said: “The moment she arrived I felt fiercely protective of her. She was my world.”
Meanwhile her mum and Gill divorced, but Jane still saw him at family dos – and on one occasion her worst nightmare came true.
She said: “Every second would be torture. One time when Gabbi was seven he offered to take her to McDonald’s in his van.
“Straight away I said no. Gabbi got upset – she didn’t understand.”
As years passed, Jane’s drinking spiralled and she became an alcoholic. When Gabbi asked her why she drank so much, she’d tell her it was because she’d had a horrible childhood.
“Eventually she got to know about Graham’s violence, but not the abuse,” she said.
One time when Gabbi was seven he offered to take her to McDonalds in his van. I said now and Gabbi got upset – she didn’t understand
When Jane met her partner Donna, 54, in 2016, she told her the same.
But drinking had weakened Jane’s body and she ended up gravely ill in hospital with pneumonia.
She recalled: “‘I was at death’s door and the doctor told me if I didn’t stop drinking I’d die.
“Gabbi and Donna were in tears begging me to let them help me. I hated what I was putting them through, but I couldn’t stop.”
When Jane came out of hospital she collapsed in the supermarket while trying to buy more booze.
“Gabbi was in bits crying and telling me she didn’t want to bury me,” Jane recalled. “I loved her so much but I couldn’t find the words to reveal my sick secret.”
When she finally broke and told Gabbi everything, Jane said it was like a “volcano erupting”.
Jane made a statement to police and told her mum, who was devastated.
Gill was arrested but denied everything and was released on bail.
Jane said: “Facing my demons, the shock to my body was so horrendous I was bed bound for a year.
“Gabbi moved in to support me with Donna as I suffered flashbacks and night terrors, where I’d grind my teeth and scream his name.
“I went through withdrawal symptoms too as I weaned myself off alcohol and medication.”
Incredibly, by the time of the trial Jane had conquered the booze and was ready to face her abuser.
Facing my demons, the shock to my body was so horrendous I was bed bound for a year
Jane wept tears of relief as he was found guilty and caged.
She said: “Afterwards Gabbi, Donna and my friend Judy told me how proud they were of me. “I couldn’t have done it without them. I have my amazing officer DC Michelle Thompson to thank too. She was amazing, leaving no stone unturned.”
Now Jane is looking to the future, grateful for the chance to start afresh.
She said: “Although I’ll always carry the mental scars, I see myself as a survivor.
“I’m setting up a group to help other women who’ve been abused.
“I’m living proof it’s never too late to seek justice. And I want monsters like Graham to realise they’ve nowhere to hide.”
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Det Con Michelle Thompson, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Gill is an abhorrent offender who subjected his young victim to systematic and violent sexual abuse over a lengthy period.
“I would like to commend her for her courage in both coming forward to report this horrific abuse and in facing her abuser through the court process.”
How you can get help
Women’s Aid has this advice for victims and their families:
- Always keep your phone nearby.
- Get in touch with charities for help, including the Women’s Aid live chat helpline and services such as SupportLine.
- If you are in danger, call 999.
- Familiarise yourself with the Silent Solution, reporting abuse without speaking down the phone, instead dialing “55”.
- Always keep some money on you, including change for a pay phone or bus fare.
- If you suspect your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower-risk area of the house – for example, where there is a way out and access to a telephone.
- Avoid the kitchen and garage, where there are likely to be knives or other weapons. Avoid rooms where you might become trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or other small space.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse, SupportLine is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6pm to 8pm on 01708 765200. The charity’s email support service is open weekdays and weekends during the crisis – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women’s Aid provides a live chat service – available weekdays from 8am-6pm and weekends 10am-6pm.
You can also call the freephone 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.