“You can never tell your mum because she loves me too much and she won’t believe you.”
That was what a man told his granddaughter after he had abused her.
Jessica, 9, broke down in tears in front of her mum Mary after being sworn to secrecy by her grandfather about the incident that shocked a family.
The paedophile was eventually given a five-year jail sentence at Dundee Sheriff Court – leaving Mary to pick up the pieces.
The truth about the abuse of Mary’s three daughters finally came to light when Jessica bravely confided in her mum.
Mary said: “Jessica looked me in the eyes and said: ‘Your dad.’
“I just froze, standing there in absolute shock. Shaking.
“Right away I knew what it was.
“I don’t know why but I had always noticed he had been quite creepy with people.
“He was always chatting someone up or tickling them.”
She added: “My three girls carried the secret with them for eight years of their lives because they thought I would be angry and upset with them.”
Mary rushed to the phone, thinking about 13-year-old Rachel who was at her grand-father’s house having dinner.
She said: “I phoned and said ‘We have to come and get you’ and she replied, ‘What is it mum?’
“I said ‘It’s about your grandad’ and she burst out crying and I thought ‘That’s it confirmed’.
“My eldest daughter, Caroline, was upstairs and she came down and burst out crying so that was another confirmation.”
Mary added: “They said it started with tickling, then there was touching.
“There was touching of private parts as well as him exposing himself to them and there was penetration of my youngest.”
Mary’s last encounter with her father was 11 years ago, when he came to her house after finding out that his dark secret was out in the open.
Pushing against the front door to prevent him getting in, Mary said: “If this door is opened and you manage to get in, I swear to God on my children’s life that I will kill you.”
The revelation came as a shock to Mary after having had a good relationship with her father when she was growing up.
She said her life with her parents couldn’t have been better.
Mary said: “My father was my hero. I had him on a pedestal.
“I respect my mum a lot for staying with my father.
“It must have been hard for her because I can see now there was a control over her and what she did.
“I got treated to clothes, toys, colouring books and I was given a lot of love.
“We would visit people and it was like he was showing me off.”
But the bombshell news delivered by her daughters brought the terrible reality of her father’s secret to the fore.
Mary held her girls close until 1am after the truth came out, eventually taking them to counselling and informing their school.
In 2010, she looked over at her father in the dock at Dundee Sheriff Court.
She said: “Members of the jury were offered counselling because they were so distressed about me having to stand up in court and point to my father.
“I broke down mentally and physically during the trial.
“When I left the courtroom, I was screaming.
“I couldn’t breathe. They were bringing me water.
“My partner came through and comforted me.
“My kids came and said ‘You can do this’ and I had my cousins looking on.
“I couldn’t say the word ‘Dad’.
“I call him father because all he did was bring me into this world.
“He didn’t define me and make me what I am now.”
*The names in this article have been changed to protect the identities of the victims.
Mary’s father was convicted by a majority on each of the five charges against him, being found guilty of lewd and indecent practices towards his granddaughters.
During the trial, the sheriff ruled his behaviour had torn the family’s lives apart, saying he could be a Jekyll and Hyde character.
Psychologists found no evidence of mental ill health to explain any of his actions.
After serving two and a half years of his five-year sentence, Mary’s father still lives in Dundee and is on the sex offenders register for life.
She said: “He got less time for good behaviour.
“He’s a very sneaky man. He would have been cleaning.
“If he was allowed, he would have been reading books to people and painting portraits because he was a very good artist.”
But his conviction marked a new beginning in Mary’s life.