Mother faces jail unless rapist can see children

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A desperate young mother is facing jail because she has refused to obey a court order to let an ex-husband, who savagely raped her, see their children.

Miss X is in hiding with their two sons and her new husband because she is petrified she will be attacked again.

Her former husband was released from jail recently after serving four years of a six-year sentence for raping her, following their divorce.

During their stormy marriage he beat her up and threatened her with guns. But he has won a court order allowing him contact with the boys, aged nine and seven.

The 33-year-old mother has refused to give his lawyers her secret address. She appeared before a judge at Durham Crown Court yesterday for a review of the case which could land her behind bars for contempt of court.

Judge William Crawford ordered Miss X to disclose her home telephone number, so British Telecom and the DSS could trace the address.

The children's whereabouts will not be revealed to their father - only to a court welfare officer. And Miss X, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will be back before the judge next week to establish whether she has obeyed his new order.

After the hearing in chambers, Miss X said: "I certainly don't want to go to jail but I am not going to comply with the contact order. It would be serious for the kids if I did."

Her solicitor, Paul Dodds, added: "Her prime concern is for the children. She is utterly devoted to them. She understands if she breaches the order one of the penalties could be for her to be imprisoned.

"She doesn't want to be sent to prison. But she faces a very unhappy choice. She is in very real danger based on the experience she has suffered in the past.

"She doesn't want the children or herself to be exposed to any risk of harm in the future."

The ex-husband has a restraint order against him, forbidding him from going within 500 yards of his former wife.

But since he was freed from jail late last year, he has visited her previous address and social services offices looking for her.

Miss X has a two-year-old child by her new husband.

Her friend, Joanne Wilkins, who is leading a women's rights campaign supporting her, said: "Her ex-husband sent tapes and letters every day from prison.

"As far as he is concerned, she is still his property, to do with as he will."