WEST Somerset businesswoman Liz Roberts is taking control for the first time after a teenager stole 50 years of her life.

He has finally faced justice for the sexual abuse he subjected Liz to at the age of eight.

Not only did he rob her of her innocence, he subjected her to half a century of shame.

Now that shame is firmly back where it belongs on her Herbert, a convicted sex offender.

Andrew Herbert, who was 16 at the time of his offences, unwittingly presented Liz with the evidence she needed to force him to plead guilty to a total of 10 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency against her and another young girl.

Liz, who has waived her right to anonymity, insists Herbert also raped her on various occasions, although he denied that in court and the jury in his trial failed to reach a verdict.

She said: "I want to place the shame of childhood sexual abuse where it belongs.

"The shame I felt helped keep it hidden for so long.

"After what happened, I always felt there was something wrong with me.

"It caused me a lot of trauma managing my emotions.

"I felt weak, stupid, dirty and worthless.

"I was stuck in a hamster wheel of various levels of rubbish all my life until now."

Herbert rebelled against his family and was "a delinquent", leaving home to start working at 16, which is when he assaulted Liz.

When she was about 30, Liz plucked up the courage to tell her parents what had happened with Herbert, but they took action.

She said: "He used to draw attention to me. Now it's my turn."

Liz carried on in her dark world for several more years until things came to a head about four years ago.

"Things had become progressively worse for me," added Liz, a former PC in Filton.

"After mum died in 2020, things moved up to a whole new level.

"I was having therapy and it became a trigger . It had got to such a point I decided I couldn't tolerate it any more.

"I wrote him a five-page letter outlining in detail what he had done and the impact his actions had had on my life. I ended by saying 'If you contact me again, I'll reconsider my decision not to go to the police'.

"If I'd done it before, a bomb would have gone off. Mum died and I felt I could do something."

"I then sent another letter to Andrew and said, 'If you contact me again, I'll reconsider my decision not to go to the police."

Herbert responded and confessed to some of the things he had done 50 years previously.

"He replied because he had to have the last say, to be in control," said Liz.

"He confessed to some of the things he'd done, but not everything.

"The rest of his letter was all about him and his trauma.

"But I had the evidence and went to the police.

"Even in court Andrew portrayed himself as the victim. He said he'd apologised and confessed. But it was only under duress as he had no real choice. He was put in a corner of his own making."

Liz added: "I spent 50 years feeling weak, stupid, dirty and not knowing who I am, really being scared at the end of this process of who I am.

"By not talking, it reinforces that negative belief. But this is his shame, It belongs with him.

"The abuse stopped when I was eight, but the emotional torture carried on for 50 years."

Liz is grateful for the support of her husband Dave, who runs his own business.

He said: "Liz told me about it in the early days of our relationship.

"I think she's very brave. She's been having therapy, which has been good for her.

"Speaking out about it has given her confidence.

"She's standing up and saying, 'Yes, this did happen. It affected is. We've got through it, We talk about it and go through it."

Liz has nothing but praise for the police and other agencies for the way in which they have handled the case.

She now runs her own business as a creator of online courses for mental health professionals.

"What he did to me made me over sensitive and I would overreact to situations. I had poor self-belief. But speaking out has finally switched a light on for me”