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News Every Day |

Dangerous predator sexually abused me in foster care – I carried the secret for 26 years before getting justice

TERESA Welsh, 43, a foster carer, lives in Grimsby with her husband, children and foster children.

As a teen Teresa was sexually abused as vulnerable child in foster care by the adult son of the family who had taken her in.

Teresa Welsh was sexually abused as a vulnerable child in foster care
Keith Coomber was finally brought to justice in 2023

“Taking a deep breath, I looked at the man standing in the dock and said: ‘You broke me at 18.

‘I will not allow you to break me again.

‘Yes, I was a victim, but above all, I am a survivor.’

It was December 2023, and I was at Northampton Crown Court facing Keith Coomber, 58, who had sexually abused me when I was a vulnerable child in foster care. 

As I read my victim impact statement, I felt empowered.

Finally, I’d found my voice.

For 26 years, I’d carried around this terrible secret, but here I was, looking at the man who’d once held such power over me.

At last, justice had been served. 

As a little girl, I’d been severely neglected by my parents, and at 13 I was so relieved to be taken into care.

For a couple of years, I was fairly happy, but after my 16th birthday, I was moved to a new home. 

My new foster parents had a 30-year-old son, Keith Coomber, who was married and had children.

I did my best to settle in, but I felt uneasy, as another girl in foster care had told me Coomber had tried to grope her.

Any time he visited, he’d make jokes and start play-fighting.

Then, one morning, he walked into my bedroom.

I woke with a shock and pulled the duvet around me, freezing in fear.

“There’s room for me in there,” he smiled.

I told him to leave me alone, but he got in anyway – and sexually assaulted me.

I felt sick. Afterwards, he smirked as though it was a big joke.

From then on, Coomber abused me on a regular basis.

He’d arrive at the house early in the morning to drop his children off, then come into my bedroom.

Usually, I was fast asleep and only woke up midway through an attack.

I tried pushing him off, but he was too strong and just laughed at me.

Trying to avoid him, I’d get up really early.

But he’d just corner me in the hallway instead.

I wanted to speak to the police, but I couldn’t face it

Teresa Welsh

After a few months, I confided in a friend, but I never thought of reporting him, convinced nobody would believe me.

Instead, I buried the trauma, and I began drinking and self-harming.

Days before my 18th birthday, I took an overdose.

It wasn’t a cry for help, I wanted to die – Coomber had destroyed me.

When I woke up in hospital, my foster family said they didn’t want me back. I panicked, but there was also relief – I needed a new start.

I found a flat and got a job in a care home, then one day a few months later, Coomber knocked on my door.

Without thinking, I let him in and he tried to force himself on me.

This time, I fought back, kicking and screaming, and he fled.

I wanted to speak to the police, but I couldn’t face it. 

I continued working and tried to build a new life.

In 2007, I decided to become a foster carer.

Teresa as a teen when she was living with Coomber

I knew how lonely it was in care, and that I could make a difference to those children’s lives.

It was so rewarding. I loved seeing them grow and flourish, but my abuse still haunted me.

I met my husband in 2012, and we married the next year and went on to have three children, as well as continuing to foster.

I was happy, yet I still couldn’t confide in my husband.

Then, in 2021, a news report popped up on my phone – Keith Coomber had been convicted of sexual assault and jailed for three years.

There was an appeal for other victims to come forward.

I knew I had to, but first I needed to tell my husband.

Saying it out loud was a relief, and he was so supportive, as were the police. 

Two years on, Coomber was charged with offences against me and two other females.

He pleaded guilty to 12 counts of indecent assault and was jailed last December for six years and nine months.

Not once did he look at me or show remorse – he just looked pathetic and sorry for himself

Teresa Welsh

I’d dreaded facing him in court.

Not once did he look at me or show remorse – he just looked pathetic and sorry for himself.

Afterwards, when I got home to my kids and foster children, I felt such gratitude, knowing I provided a safe, loving home that was worlds apart from my own childhood. 

Now, I want everyone to see Coomber’s face – he is a dangerous predator.

It’s never too late to report abuse and it’s never too late to get justice.” 

BTW

If something sexual has happened to you without your consent, contact Rape Crisis.

Call the 24/7 support line free on 0808 500 2222 or visit 247sexualabuse support.org.uk.

Teresa outside court on the day of sentencing
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