Sex attack victim describes her 12 hours of ‘living hell’ after she was tied up and attacked in her home

Michelle Brown, 26, wearing her Not Powerless t-shirt, victim of a sexual assault by Gary Nathan. Pi

Michelle Brown, 26, wearing her Not Powerless t-shirt, victim of a sexual assault by Gary Nathan. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

A sex attack victim who was subjected to '12 hours of pure living hell' has bravely waived her anonymity to speak out about her horrific ordeal in a bid to help other victims.

Gary Nathan. Photo: Norfolk Police

Gary Nathan. Photo: Norfolk Police - Credit: Norfolk Police

Michelle Brown, 26, returned to her Norwich home where she was confronted by Gary Nathan who threatened to 'snap her neck' if she did not do what he wanted.

The violent sex attacker then tied her to her bed before subjecting her to 'the most terrible, extreme sexual abuse', Norwich Crown Court heard in November.

Today, more than a year-and-a-half on from the hell she endured, Miss Brown has agreed to talk about her situation to give others the confidence to seek help.

She said: 'He was there when I got home and it was terrifying, absolutely terrifying. He threatened to break my neck. He said he would rape me if I didn't do what I was told.

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'I was lucky not to be raped but that doesn't make any of it any easier. I thought I was going to die at the time, I genuinely thought that was the end.'

During her ordeal Nathan twice visited a cash machine to steal money from her account while Miss Brown was still tied up to her bed.

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She said: 'He tied me to the bed so he could rob me. He forced me to tell him my pin.

'He told me he would be outside to see if I was screaming and If I screamed he would hurt me as well.

'I did scream and he tried to strangle me so I thought would it probably be best not to do that and maybe I would come out of it alive.'

Nathan, 52, of Pottergate, Norwich, was jailed for life at Norwich Crown Court in November and ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison before he can be considered for parole.

It came after he pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, assault, unlawful imprisonment, sexual touching and five counts of sexual assault - all committed over two days in May 2017.

Miss Brown said she hoped her story could, in some way, help others.

She said: 'He's (Nathan) a sexual predator. The idea that he could do that to someone else, and someone else that was vulnerable, just made it impossible for me not to do anything.'

She has urged victims to 'be brave' and assured them that they were not alone.

'There's a thing that people don't want to help themselves but they will help other people.

'If people realise that if someone is a rapist or is a person that assaults people by you coming forward you can help other women and other men.

'I think its really important that people realise it's not just them.'

She added: 'I want to use this horrible experience to make the world a bit of a better place.'

The former fine art student at Middlesex University and Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) said in a victim impact statement she read out in court that the only 'redeeming part of this' was she might have saved others from 'falling victim to this man's cruel and twisted ways'.

In the statement she also described how the defendant had 'ruined my life' and led her to the brink of suicide.

She said: 'He made me lose my home. He made me feel unsafe and unable to leave the house alone.

'He robbed me of so much more than physical things. I lost a place I thought of as safe, as home. Anything I owned that he touched is tainted and is in police evidence or destroyed.

'My entire life was and remains in pieces. Since that day, I have only returned once to that property to collect some belongings - I had a panic attack and had to rely on friends and family to retrieve the rest without me.'

She said she was unable to get back to work, unable to cope with day to day life and 'suffers panic attacks every time the door bell rings'.

Miss Brown said she no longer felt safe and insisted Nathan 'will haunt me for the rest of my life' following the '12 hours of pure living hell' she suffered at his hands. She said she now struggled to walk anywhere alone.

But the former Reepham High School pupil, who now wants to put her energies into volunteering and helping other people, said she hoped her story might yet help others.

She said: 'I could talk about this forever and I think I always will. It's so important.

'The most important thing is hopefully if people see it then perhaps it will help them.'

'Inexcusable' behaviour

The bravery of the victim was heralded by police after her attacker was jailed.

Speaking after Gary Nathan was sentenced, Det Insp Chris Burgess, from Norwich CID, said: 'Nathan subjected his victims to violent attacks, which have undoubtedly had a significant impact on their lives.

'The victims were immensely brave by coming forward and I hope this result provides some closure for them.'

Judge Stephen Holt acknowledged that the victim was subjected to 'the most terrible, extreme sexual abuse' and the depravity of what Nathan forced her do was just 'horrendous'. He praised the bravery of the victim in coming forward.

Matthew McNiff, mitigating for Nathan, said his client wanted him to convey the 'sorrow he feels for what he did'.

He added what Nathan did was 'inexcusable and unforgivable' and said he would remain in the prison system for 'many years'.

Ministry of Justice response

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: 'Our deepest sympathies are with Miss Brown - we understand how difficult the court process can be for victims and know delays can make this worse.

'We do everything we can to ensure cases are dealt with as quickly as possible but some delays are unavoidable, for example if new evidence is put forward or if new, separate charges are brought against the same defendant.

'We are working together across the Criminal Justice System to make justice swifter and more efficient for everyone.'

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