Woman, 40, reveals how she snared a family friend who sexually abused her when she was seven by confronting him three decades later and hiding a secret recorder in her bra

  • EXCLUSIVE: Sam Welch, of Crawley, West Sussex was abused by Clive Manning
  • Sam, 40, kept quiet but was tormented by secret and struggled in relationships
  • Bumped into Manning by chance 30 years later and confronted him at his home
  • Hid recorder in her bra to capture conversation which proved damning evidence
  • He was convicted of 12 historic counts of indecent assault and jailed for 15 years
  • Sam, who has waived her right to anonymity, says she finally feels 'free' of past 

A woman who was sexually abused by a family friend at the age of seven has told how she confronted the paedophile 30 years later - and snared him by hiding a recorder in her bra.

Sam Welch, now 40, of Crawley, West Sussex, was repeatedly attacked by Clive Manning, now 54, in an annex on the grounds of her family home in Kent.

After keeping quiet about it for three decades, Sam bumped into Manning by chance and confronted him about the abuse he inflicted.

While he didn't confess, Sam recorded their conversation on a secret device which proved enough for a case to be built against him.

Waiving her right to anonymity, Sam told FEMAIL that she finally feels 'free' of her past and is happy at last, after reconnecting with her childhood friend Vinnie Bristow, 39, and marrying him this summer. 

Sam Welch, now 40, of Crawley, West Sussex, was sexually abused by Clive Manning, now 54, in an annex on the grounds of her family home when she was just seven years old

Sam Welch, now 40, of Crawley, West Sussex, was sexually abused by Clive Manning, now 54, in an annex on the grounds of her family home when she was just seven years old

In January this year, Manning was convicted of 12 historic counts of indecent assault and jailed for 15 years. 

'For decades I was plagued by the abuse I'd suffered as a little girl,' she told FEMAIL.

'What Clive did to me affected every aspect of my life, including my relationships.

'I wish I'd been brave enough to speak up sooner. But now he's where he belongs I have a chance to start again. And marrying Vinnie I've finally found something which has eluded me all my life - happiness.'

After keeping quiet about it for three decades, Sam - pictured as a child - bumped into Manning by chance and confronted him about the abuse he inflicted

After keeping quiet about it for three decades, Sam - pictured as a child - bumped into Manning by chance and confronted him about the abuse he inflicted

Sam was just six years old when she and her mother moved to a small-holding in Kent.

As well as caring for the animals there was building work to be done, and her mother's then-boyfriend suggested that his friend Manning, then 21, could help out. 

In January this year, Clive Manning was convicted of 12 historic counts of indecent assault and jailed for 15 years

In January this year, Clive Manning was convicted of 12 historic counts of indecent assault and jailed for 15 years

'The moment I met Clive I liked him,' Sam admitted. 'He took me around the farm to see all the animals.'

Sam and her family lived in the bungalow while Manning moved into an annex next to the stables and regularly picked her up from school.

In the evenings, while her mother snuggled up with her boyfriend, Sam was left feeling bored and used to escape out of her bedroom window to go and visit Manning.

'He'd always give me a friendly welcome and he'd make me a jam sandwich and hot chocolate too,' Sam recalled.

'The annex was cramped, dusty and dark. But I didn't mind. Clive made me feel special and we'd watch Neighbours and Top of the Pops together as he'd give me cuddles.'

One day Sam noticed a pile of magazines by Manning's bed. Spying the pictures of naked women on the front, she innocently asked him what they were.

'Clive grinned and told me that I shouldn't look at them, but he didn't move them out of my way,' she recalled.

Sam, pictured age six, lived in a bungalow on a small-holding in Kent. Manning moved into an annex next to the stables and regularly picked her up from school

Sam, pictured age six, lived in a bungalow on a small-holding in Kent. Manning moved into an annex next to the stables and regularly picked her up from school

One day, when Sam was seven, she and Manning were in the annex on the sofa when he suddenly reached over and placed his hand on her privates.

She said: 'I flinched but I was so little I didn't really understand, and when a few days later, he placed my hand on his crotch, I thought it was normal.'

A few months later they were in the annex when Manning pulled down his trousers and pants before lifting her night dress up to her shoulders and rubbing himself on her tummy - wiping away the evidence afterwards.

'I froze, too scared to move,' Sam recalled. 'After that, every time I went to the annex he'd touch me or pull my hand over to him. 

One day, when Sam was seven, she and Manning were in the annex on the sofa when he suddenly reached over and placed his hand on her privates. Pictured: Sam as a teenager

One day, when Sam was seven, she and Manning were in the annex on the sofa when he suddenly reached over and placed his hand on her privates. Pictured: Sam as a teenager

Sam said it wasn't until secondary school during a sex education lesson that the true horror of what Manning had done to her hit home

Sam said it wasn't until secondary school during a sex education lesson that the true horror of what Manning had done to her hit home

'I always did what he said. Afterwards he'd make me a hot chocolate and give me a biscuit.

'He made it look so normal, it didn't cross my mind to tell Mum. I had no idea he was abusing me.'

Less than a year later Manning suddenly disappeared. Sam and her mother didn't see him again and they ended up moving.

'During the next few years I was a content little girl,' she explained. 'I had plenty of friends, including a boy called Vinnie, and I enjoyed school.'

It wasn't until secondary school during a sex education lesson that the true horror of what Manning had done to her hit home.

'A wave of revulsion swept over me, I thought I was going to be sick,' she said. 

Despite her inner turmoil, Sam managed to pass all her school exams and as the years passed she went on to have relationships - but none of them lasted. Pictured: Sam recently

Despite her inner turmoil, Sam managed to pass all her school exams and as the years passed she went on to have relationships - but none of them lasted. Pictured: Sam recently

'For the first time I realised what Clive had done to me hadn't been normal. He'd sexually abused me.

'I felt horrible, dirty and ashamed. But thinking it was somehow my fault, I kept quiet about it.'

When Sam was 15, she finally confided in her mum.

'Her face turned white and she gasped,' Sam said. 'She wanted me to speak to the police but, overcome with panic and fearful of repercussions, I refused, burying my head in my school work instead.'

Despite her inner turmoil, Sam managed to pass all her school exams and as the years passed she went on to have relationships - but none of them lasted.

'I struggled with intimacy, had flashbacks of Clive, what he'd done to me, the whiff of his aftershave, his green eyes - it all haunted me,' she admitted.

Sam reconnected with her childhood friend Vinnie Bristow, 39, pictured, during the trial and married him in the summer

Sam reconnected with her childhood friend Vinnie Bristow, 39, pictured, during the trial and married him in the summer

In October 2017, aged 36 and after another relationship breakdown, Sam moved back in with her mum.

'I tried to keep busy, and one day when a farmer friend rang to ask if I'd give him a hand with my dog, moving his sheep to another field, I was more than happy to help,' she said.

'He pulled up at the house and I climbed into the back of his jeep with my dog. There was a man in the passenger seat but I didn't think anything of it.

'But as he adjusted the visor on the mirror I saw his eyes and I froze. I recognised them straightaway. It was Clive!' 

Not wanting to cause a scene, Sam managed to avoid Manning as she got on with the job, but he approached her when the farmer went to retrieve two lost sheep. 

'There was no doubt he knew it was me,' she said. 'Smiling he said, "Hello Samantha, you've turned into a beautiful lady."'

Sam offered to help out a friend on a farm and bumped into Manning, sending her into a tailspin

Sam offered to help out a friend on a farm and bumped into Manning, sending her into a tailspin

Sam quickly made her excuses and rushed home in tears. After that she was determined not to let him destroy her life anymore.  

Sam tracked down the caravan where Manning was living. Once inside she switched off her phone and put it on the table so he could see she wasn't recording anything.

But Sam had secretly stashed a USB recorder stick the size of her thumb inside her bra.

Over the next half an hour she poured her heart out, asking him repeatedly why he did what he did.

After claiming he didn't remember anything at first, Sam persisted until he told her: 'I would have waited for you, I would've married you, I was in love with you.'

She asked for his number to get it on tape, at which point he asked whether she'd like to go for a drink to talk, but Sam made her excuses and went home, where she played the recording to her mother, who rang the police.

Two officers arrived and Sam recounted her story and played them the tape before going with them to make a video statement. 

Sam spent a lot of her past working outdoors on sheep farms with her collie dogs - finding it a release

Sam spent a lot of her past working outdoors on sheep farms with her collie dogs - finding it a release

Following Manning's conviction, Sam said she now wants to make a fresh start and is keen to live a normal life. Pictured on her wedding day with husband Vinnie

Following Manning's conviction, Sam said she now wants to make a fresh start and is keen to live a normal life. Pictured on her wedding day with husband Vinnie

'I was in tears for most of it but I got through it,' she said. 

Manning was arrested and charged with numerous counts of historic indecent assault against Sam, to which he pleaded not guilty.

'It meant a trial, the thought of which petrified me,' Sam admitted. 'I don't know how I'd have coped in the months leading up to it without the support of my family. But I was determined to see justice.'

In January this year Clive Manning appeared at Lewes Crown Court and claimed he only said what he did in the recording to placate Sam and 'calm her down'.

But after hearing the recording the jury saw through his lies and Manning was convicted of 12 historic counts of indecent assault against her and sentenced to 15 years.

'Finally a weight's lifted and now I want to make a fresh start, to live a normal life and show people that there is life after abuse,' Sam said.

Sam said she is determined not to let what Manning did to her affect her and Vinnie's future together

Sam said she is determined not to let what Manning did to her affect her and Vinnie's future together

'I plan to do a counselling course, so I can help others on a volunteer basis who've been through something similar.

'I've also recently married my childhood friend Vinnie after the two of us reconnected and fell in love in the lead-up to the trial.

'I'm determined not to let what Clive did to me affect our future together. I'll never erase what that beast did, but knowing he's now where he belongs helps and it means he can't do it to anyone else.

'Living on our small holding he came across as so trustworthy and nice. But he was a predator.'

Woman, 40, snares family friend who abused her age of seven by hiding a secret recorder in her bra

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.