A woman who found compact discs she didn’t recognise in her caravan put them into the computer expecting to find music – and instead discovered her husband is a paedophile.
Ann, 70, was alone in the couple’s caravan when she made the discovery. She said: “At first I thought that they were mine and that I’d put music on them sometime before, but they kept coming up with an error message.
“When I switched to the photo option, I saw what was on them. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I just felt absolute horror.”
The first image showed a young woman in a shower. She had been secretly filmed through a peephole by Ann’s husband Terence “Terry” Donovan. Ann (not her real name) told the police what she had found out about her husband of almost 20 years.
The 73-year-old was later jailed after admitting voyeurism and downloading more than 1,000 indecent images of children, reports WalesOnline.
Ann said that after the discovery, certain things about her marriage made more sense. She said: “You think you must be imagining things but if you’ve got a gut feeling, you’ve got to act on it.”
Ann first met Donovan in the 1990s when they worked together at a store. A few years later they happened to see each other at a convenience shop. By this time Ann was divorced and Donovan’s previous wife had died. A couplepof months later they accidentally met again and Donovan invited Ann for a drink.
She said: “It was the first time in a while that someone had. He was a bit of a charmer, a good talker. He seemed like a proper gentleman.”
The trustee of a local social club, Donovan was seen as a “pillar of the community”, said Ann. He would often do the washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking. Within months he had proposed.
“He told me, ‘We’re at that age where we both want company’,” she said. “I was taken in by it. I loved my job as a healthcare support worker, but it was hard shift work and I wanted someone to come home to.”
The couple married in 1999. Donovan moved in with Ann before selling his own house in 2001, around the time he retired.
Ann was starting to feel uneasy about the relationship. She claims Donovan picked out clothes for her to wear, insisted on cooking meals she did not like, and redecorated without letting her have a say. “I was never allowed to know what was going on in his bank account, but he had to know about every penny that was in mine.”
In 2007 came an “out of the blue” plan: Donovan wanted Ann to sell the house so they could move. She said: “You had to live with him to know what he was like. He could charm the birds off a tree but underneath all that, there would be very nasty outbursts. He never hurt me physically but he had a temper. After a while I stopped questioning him. I felt like I had to be quiet.”
Ann says Donovan used the money from the house sale to buy four caravans. They lived together in one and rented out the other three.
Ann became increasingly homesick for Cardiff. She enrolled in a health and social care degree at the Open University. They agreed that Donovan would stay in Tenby while she would go back to living in Cardiff, where she then started work as a care assessor. Every few weekends Ann visited Donovan at the caravan and during the winter he stayed at her home in Fairwater. She did not mind that she no longer saw him every day. When they did see each other, Donovan came across as “secretive”.
“He never, ever allowed me to see his phone,” she said. “He even took it in the toilet with him. When I asked why, he said it was because someone might ring about the caravans. I think it was really that he didn’t want me to see what was on there.
“He didn’t sleep in the nights. I thought he was watching TV in another room but I remember one time when he didn’t hear me coming out of the bedroom. I opened the door and suddenly he slammed his laptop down. I said something like, ‘Did I catch the cat with the cream?’ I didn’t think much of it at the time.”
After she learned her husband’s secret, Ann was in “too much shock” to confront him but she reported him to police, who then raided the caravan. She has never spoken to him about his crimes, although she bumped into him one day in Barry Island while he was on bail. “I was so gobsmacked and scared that I turned round and ran away,” she said.
Police discovered that Donovan’s crimes spanned from 2002 to 2018. He pleaded guilty to voyeurism by recording a private act and possessing 46 indecent images of children in Category A — the most serious — as well as 52 in Category B, 1,205 in Category C, and 684 extreme pornographic images involving animals.
Donovan appeared on October 28 last year where he was handed a 16-month jail term — a sentence Ann believes should have been much longer. “I think with anything like that the minimum should be five years. We’re not sending a proper message to these paedophiles. I appreciate the judge’s hands were tied but I think the justice system should be re-evaluated so that these people are getting years behind bars.”
Ann waited around eight months for counselling on the NHS. The first thing the counsellor told Ann was: “It wasn’t your fault. You can’t blame yourself.” Ann has restored her maiden name and started a course to become a counsellor so she can help others who have been through trauma.
“I sometimes think about people who may have suspicions about their spouse, or people who are being coerced into things,” Ann added. “I want to send the message that they should not be afraid to speak up.”