Detective praises courage of Darlington sexual abuse survivor

The woman had to live with the effects of Michael Woods’ abuse for more than 20 years before she was able to speak to police about her ordeal.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the victim’s abuse began when she was a teenager and fell into the perverted hands of the then 18-year-old when she lived in the Darlington area.

Woods was found guilty of three counts of raping the woman after she testified in court about the sexual abuse she suffered.

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“He will no longer define me, and I will find peace and comfort in moving on” – these are the brave words of the woman as her rapist was sentenced to 26 years in prison.

The Northern Echo: Michael WoodsMichael Woods (Image: Durham Constabulary)

The 41-year-old will serve at least 21 years in prison. He was also given an indefinite sexual violence prevention order and placed on the sex offenders register indefinitely due to his dangerousness.

Devastating impact

Judge Jonathan Carroll criticized Woods for the contempt he showed his victim during the hearing, as he put his feet on the table and grinned while his crime was explained to him.

Elaborating on the content of the victim’s statement, he added: “It is a profound explanation of the long-term damage caused by controlling abusive relationships in which sex is used as another weapon of control and humiliation.”

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Sergeant Richard Blamires, of Durham Constabulary, said: “This has been an incredibly long and complex investigation which has shown the devastating impact suffered by survivors of abuse.”

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“I want to thank the woman in this case not only for having the courage to come forward and tell us what she experienced at the hands of Woods, but also for having the resilience to continue to be involved throughout the legal process to work together.”, which I know can be very difficult and stressful in itself.

“By speaking out, she has shown tremendous courage and mental strength. I hope that this conviction and sentence not only provides her with some closure, but also sends a strong message to all other victims of abuse that you will be heard and we will work hard to get you the justice you deserve.

“If you or someone you know is suffering at the hands of a perpetrator, please speak to us – call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.” Detective praises courage of Darlington sexual abuse survivor

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