A WOMAN broke down as she told a court how a man repeatedly sexually abused her as a child.

Neil Bennett, 50, of Forest Edge, in Buckhurst Hill, faces 11 charges relating to the sexual abuse of the woman when she was underage and two charges relating to the sexual abuse of a man when he was underage.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told Snaresbrook Crown Court how she first met Mr Bennett when she was seven and he lived in Hainault in the early 1990s.

She said the first sign something was wrong was when he kissed her on the lips during a day out in Hainault Forest.

Later on she said he would play strip poker with her and the other alleged victim in the trial, which would lead to them becoming naked together.

She told the court that on one occasion Mr Bennett asked her to take a shower with him at his house, during which he indecently assaulted her and attempted to rape her.

She said: “He was very careful to cover his tracks. He’d put the wet towel on the radiator when he didn’t want anyone to know anyone had showered.”

Breaking down in tears, the woman then said Mr Bennett took her to his bedroom where he again attempted to rape her while telling her: “I don’t want to hurt you. I love you.”

Alleging that Mr Bennett continued to sexually abuse her over time, she said she was 12 when he raped her for the first time.

The court heard that he regularly asked her to perform sexual acts on him and often indecently assaulted her at his home, in secluded areas and in his car.

The woman said at the age of 13 she had a mental breakdown because of the abuse and had to be sectioned after trying to kill herself.

She told the court: “For many years I was depressed and suicidal with no reason to go on. My childhood was so rubbish they had to lock me up to stop me from doing something to myself.”

The court was shown a video of the alleged victim in 2000 when she was interviewed at Woodford Police Station after first making the accusations against Mr Bennett.

He denied the allegations at the time and no criminal charges were brought against him.

In 2006 new allegations were made against Mr Bennett which led to the current trial.

Prosecutor Sally Ann Hales told the jury that the woman had suffered sexual abuse as a young child at the hands of members of her family before meeting Mr Bennett.

She said: “It’s common ground when she was a young child she had been sexually assaulted [by her family]. You will have to consider whether her accusations [against Mr Bennett] are figments of her imagination, or flashbacks to earlier abuse, or reality.”

Mr Bennett faces two charges of rape, two of attempted rape, five of indecent assault, and two of indecency with a child - all said to have taken place with a young girl.

He also faces two charges of indecent assault on a boy aged under 16.

All the alleged offences are said to have been committed between 1997 and 2000.

Mr Bennett denies all the charges against him.

The trial continues.