When Richard Dowling’s son, Daniel, was 11-years-old, he forced him to have sex with his step-mother in an attempt to make sure his son wouldn’t be gay.
His father also coerced him to watch porn and engage in three-way sexual encounters with himself and the step-mother.
Although the incidents took place in the 1990s, charges were only brought in 2015 against the father and former step-mom.
Richard Dowling, now 62-years-old, has been sentenced to five years in prison on one count of cruelty to a child and two counts relating to sexual offenses involving a child.
The former step-mother, Annette Breakspear, 62-years-old, received an eight year sentence on three counts of indecent assault.
Now 36, Daniel has shared his story with the Sunday Mirror in an effort to help others raise their voices in similar situations.
The initial abuse began while playing a board game one night. Richard suggested the loser remove their clothing. Soon, Breakspear was naked and the father encouraged Daniel to kiss and fondle her breasts.
At the time, 11-year-old Daniel says he justified the abuse in his head because, “Dad was encouraging me to do it so I thought it was OK.”
“I think that night was a tester of how I’d react because intercourse started after that,” he added.
Daniel tells the Sunday Mirror that not only did Breakspear take his virginity soon after, but she would engage in sexual abuse at least ten more times over the next three years.
In one instance, after returning home from Scouts, his father told him to go give his step-mom a “good night kiss.” But when Daniel entered the bedroom, Breakspear was naked and handcuffed to the bed.
She instructed him to kiss her, and things eventually led to intercourse. During the incident, the father came and joined in.
In another episode, Richard made Daniel watch pornography with him before the dad engaged in oral sex with Breakspear telling Daniel, “That’s how you do it.”
There were also times when all three would be in bed participating in some form of three-way sex. Other times, the father wouldn’t be present for the episodes.
Today, Daniel is openly gay but the damage done at such a young age persists.
“I was sexualised at such a young age that sex means nothing to me now,” he says. “The few positive memories of my childhood are tarnished by memories of the abuse. When I smell someone wearing her perfume, or see that board game in a shop or on TV, it brings the memories back.”
The repercussions of the abuse resulted in mental health issues for Daniel including depression and an attempted suicide.
The abuse came to an end when Richard ended his relationship with Breakspear in 1996. The father and son moved to Weymouth, Dorset, where at age 16 Daniel became the victim of another pedophile.
It was during interviews with a child psychologist that that the earlier abuse came to light.
But nothing came of the revelation as the father claimed his son was a liar and simply “seeking attention.” Daniel also told the Sunday Mirror that the police treated him “shoddily” during that time, and a constable even mocked him.
It would take 17 years before Daniel would eventually find justice.
On September 6, 2015, he recorded a phone call wherein the dad admitted the abuse. Daniel took the recording to the police, and this time he was taken seriously.
During Richard Dowling’s trial at Reading Crown Court, the father says his intentions were “to try and steer him in the right direction and not to go to the way of being gay, because there was like, sort of, tendencies for him to be gay”.
The father told the judge he was concerned about Daniel turning out “the right way.”
The Sunday Mirror reports Judge Maria Lamb admonished Richard Dowling in court saying, “Your warped sense of right and wrong allowed him to be exploited by your then partner not just once but again and again.”
“You’ve failed to protect him from the sexually predatory behavior of your co-defendant,” the judge said. “The damage is incalculable. The abuse of trust is monstrous and the reality is that one of you was involved in active sexual abuse and the other connived at it.”
Regarding Breakspear, Judge Lamb was direct and unflinching in her criticism: “For your own perverted sexual gratification, you initiated this boy into a world far beyond anything to which he should ever have had to be introduced at those tender years.”
The Sunday Mirror reports Daniel was not able to tell his story until today for legal reasons.
But he now shares that he has not spoken to his father for over two years, saying: “Dad threw me under the bus instead of admit his guilt. He is dead to me now.”