A woman whose best friend married her rapist has spoken out about her ordeal.
The victim, whose name we can’t publish, developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the attack by Royal Army Medical Corps officer Daniel Howard.
She was also shunned by her best friend April, who was Howard’s fiancée at the time, and lost her boyfriend to suicide in the wake of the attack.
April had been her closest friend since university, and she was heartbroken by her reaction.
‘I was meant to be a bridesmaid at her wedding,’ she told the Mirror.
‘We were meant to have children at similar times and raise them together. I only said something in the first place to try to protect April.
‘I couldn’t have stood in church on her wedding day knowing what had happened and that it would most probably happen again.’
Howard was sentenced to seven years in prison last week for the attack which happened in February last year.
He raped the woman, a professional woman now aged 26, at his home in Darlington, County Durham, after a group night out.
After his arrest he concocted a ‘ludicrous, cold-blooded and insulting’ story to pin the blame on his victim.
The Sandhurst graduate claimed she had found one of his sex toys and used it to plant DNA evidence on herself, because she was jealous of his and April’s relationship.
Recorder Andrew Sutcliffe, QC, told Howard: ‘In the face of overwhelming DNA evidence to the contrary, you continued to deny this ever happened. This attempt to humiliate your victim severely exacerbated the wrong you had already done to her.’
As he was found guilty after a four-day trial at Teeside Crown Court, his new wife wept.
His victim described how her boyfriend was like ‘a rock’, but blamed himself for what happened.
‘He had turned his phone off that night, I couldn’t get hold of him,’ she said. ‘He never forgave himself for that.
‘He always worried every time I went somewhere and wouldn’t sleep if I went out, it put a strain on us.’
And even now she feels self-conscious about what she wears, and is too scared to live alone.
‘I was ready to buy my own house but I don’t feel confident enough to be by myself,’ she said.
‘It sounds silly but I am frightened someone will come and get me again and no one will know. I had a job I loved, a strong relationship, a bright future.
‘Now I feel damaged and broken.’