Devon woman's hell with monster who raped her as she held baby

Ezra Robinson has been jailed for rape
Ezra Robinson has been jailed for rape -Credit:Devon & Cornwall Police

When the time came to run from her controlling boyfriend Kadia knew it had to be planned with precision. The consequences of another botched escape were terrifying.

“We knew we had to be clever,” she says. “He went to work as normal. He knew things weren’t great. It was the Monday after the Friday of the rape but it had all been planned weeks beforehand.”

While Ezra Robinson was at work two social workers arrived and helped her to change the locks. Then she left her house with her children. “We packed up his stuff really fast and they took his belongings to the social services office and changed the lock. Me and the kids went to a hotel for a while.”

Read more:

Eight months later she was in court giving evidence against the man who had caused her to flee from her own home. The man who had told her he would kill her if she ever went to the police, who had emotionally manipulated her during a two-year relationship, preyed upon her insecurities and raped her.

Robinson, 31, a former soldier, was jailed for 11 years at Exeter Crown Court earlier this week. He was convicted at a trial in February of one count of rape and one of controlling or coercive behaviour within an intimate relationship.

It was his second conviction for rape. The judge added an extra five years supervision which the dangerous offender must serve when he is released from jail. He praised Kadia’s dignity in reading out her personal impact statement in court.

She had given evidence in the trial without screens so she could look the defendant in the eye as she told the truth about their life together.

Kadia has agreed to waive her automatic anonymity as a victim of a sexual offence in order to highlight the issues around controlling behaviour and to call for improvements to two police disclosure schemes - Clare’s Law and Sarah’s Law - which, in theory, give women crucial information about their partner’s criminal history. In her case they proved almost useless. However, DevonLive has agreed to only refer to Kadia by her first name to allow her and her children some online privacy.

The relationship had started so well. The pair met on a dating website. Consensual adults looking for a good time, no strings attached.

“I did not in any way shape or form expect to meet him more than once,” she says. “I was not looking for a relationship at that point because I’d just had a bad experience and I wasn’t looking for that again. I wasn’t looking for anything serious at all.”

But the pair struck up an easy friendship, bonding over their shared experiences. Before she knew it she had confided about her PTSD. He talked about his time as a soldier in Afghanistan. He was honest about his past brushes with the law, or seemed to be.

“We spoke for three and a half hours,” she said. “It was a lot of talking. He was telling me his whole life story. He came off like, really charming, really funny at points. He was being vulnerable at quite a lot of points.

“I think even from the very first time I met him he starts saying things along the lines of that he’d done, things in the past. He did tell me that he’d been in prison but when I asked what it was for he said that it was assaults on men."

What Robinson didn't mention was that he was a convicted sex offender with a previous conviction for rape dating back to 2012.

Want the latest Devon breaking news and top stories first? Click here to join our WhatsApp group. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice

Ezra Robinson has been jailed for rape
Ezra Robinson has been jailed for rape -Credit:Devon & Cornwall Police

“I specifically asked if there had been anything against women and children and he said no. He told me how he’d been a party man in the past but that really he’s starting to think about settling down.

"At first, I was like ‘Ok whatever’ and didn’t really think anything of it. I remember that he told me that he loved me first and he was the one that initiated contact beyond that first night.”

Clare’s Law and Sarah’s Law allow potential victims of abuse to find out about their partner’s previous violent or sexual offending. Kadia wasn’t the sort of person to be easily taken in so she did her checks. The reply took a month to arrive and was lacking in detail it proved almost worthless. Besides, by this time she had already found out about his decade-old rape conviction.

“It was a DevonLive article I found," she says. "It was a very small line at the bottom that said he was convicted rapist. My face dropped and I was white as a ghost because by this point we were already saying I love you. It was a significant period into the relationship that I found this out."

Robinson had his story prepared. The victim of the rape, he said, had lied, it was all a mix-up, she had consented but didn’t want to admit it.

“He always denied it,” says Kadia. “He said that he pled guilty because he got assigned a public defender who was really rubbish who was saying to him ‘Oh just plead guilty’ and he could appeal it later.”

“If you’re quite an empathetic person like I am, that can pull on your heart strings. When I did get the Clare and Sarah’s back about the rape I specifically asked for more details but they said ‘Sorry, can’t tell you any more’.

The disclosure from police only confirmed Robinson had been convicted of the crime. It gave no details or context for the offence, effectively allowing her new, charming boyfriend to fill in the blanks.

“Weirdly, now he’s been convicted of this case they’ve told me that I’m eligible for that information. Because it’s been proven in a court of law he’s raped me I’m allowed to have access to files from before. I think there’s an issue with that.”

The relationship seemed to be going well. Robinson moved his things into Kadia's address. “I was really happy at first,” she says. “I thought I’d met Prince Charming. I never thought he was completely innocent. I was thinking it’s not my place to judge his past, it’s who he is now.

“There were a few little cracks. If he came back a bit too late from work or a bit too pissed he’d get a bit aggressive and I’d think ‘Oh there’s a bit of a switch there’. There was an occasional mood but nothing I thought outright abusive.”

There wasn’t a single turning point when Robinson’s behaviour changed - although the court case highlighted Kadia falling pregnant with his child - it was more of a creeping control.

She says: “It’s so subtle. It probably did start earlier than the pregnancy but because it’s so subtle I didn’t really acknowledge it.

“I remember from the beginning there were issues with pretty much all of my friends. He'd find part of their personalities to pick on. He’d say you don’t want to surround yourself with people like that. It got to the point where I felt I had to hide when talking to my friends.

"He also wasn’t particularly nice about my family to me but he did also try to hit on my mother behind my back. He wasn’t very nice about her to me but was nice to her behind my back.

"I think the term narcissist is thrown about way too much but I do think he actually is one. Because it’s like ‘What can I manipulate out of this situation?’"

Common factors in many controlling relationships include control over money, ostracising partners from friends, belittling, and control of what a person wears.

“He was quite clever about that,” she says. “It started off like he would dress me. At first it seemed like a nice thing. He chose my outfits every single day. If he hadn’t chosen my outfits it was wrong and I’d done it wrong.

“He’d say yes or no, go up to wardrobe and say ‘wear this’. At first I thought it was kind of sweet and I found it quite flattering but then 'hang on, I’m losing my personality here. This isn’t what I would dress in and he’s buying things with my money'.

“If I’m just wearing lazy clothes when he comes back then, to him, I’m just not putting in an effort and that’s why he cheats on me or is not nice to me. I should have a sandwich ready or have the dinner cooking, there was always an expectation.”

She recalls him going ballistic over a lack of protein in his meal. “It was such a big deal and he’s screaming saying I didn’t respect him at all and I’m not the person he thought I was. He left the house for hours that day."

The relationship was not physically violent but Kadia thinks that was probably because she would carefully monitor his moods and quickly retreat at the first sign. The threat of violence was always there if she stepped out of line.

“I already have PTSD and I’ve become quite good at spotting aggressive signs. If something happens I’m immediately keeping my mouth shut. I’m going to shut my mouth and do what I’m told.

“I was way too honest from the get go. I’ve always thought honesty is the best policy because I’m not the type who would see vulnerabilities and think it was a perfect opportunity to exploit.”

When the pair argued it would be Kadia who he’d label as the ‘crazy one’ who no one would believe. Her own insecurities and vulnerabilities were always in the background suggesting he might be right. She would sometimes doubt her own reactions to his behaviour.

“At the beginning we seemed like kindred spirits. He’d also had this sort of traumatic upbringing and saying he wanted to have a stable loving supportive family network and to give his children what he never had. All that fitted in really quite well with how I felt about things. We had quite a lot of shared experiences and got each other to a degree.

“Looking back I think from the beginning the bonding was a facade, a tactic. I think he saw me coming a million miles away. I was way too honest.”

The relationship was crashing around her. Robinson, the court case heard, had ground his partner down. She was existing but barely living.

“My mental health started to decline as I was beginning to doubt myself," she says. "I was constantly on edge, wondering what was going on and if this was going to get better and if it was something I was doing wrong."

The dynamic of the relationship was out of kilter. Kadia thought she still needed him, a father figure for her children, so tolerated his cheating. "He told me that if I didn’t want him to cheat, I should put more effort into looking nice when he got home."

There came a point when she no longer wanted anything to do with Robinson. But leaving was difficult. The house was in her name, he was not even on the tenancy. They shared a distrust of police. Besides, he had made his voice clear on what he would do if she ever went to them.

"I’d already been threatened a million times that if I ever said anything to the police I’d be dead before they got here and I believed him."

When she did call police it backfired.

“I had to physically run with my children in hand on multiple occasions. I’d hide in hotels or family member houses. The first time I tried to get him to leave he was still in my house and threatening to burn it down. I called the police on him.

“Bad mistake. All I wanted was for the police to come to my house right now, check it’s not on fire, take the keys, job done. But police did not respond until the next morning at which time he had left the property with my key. I did not want to make a police report as I did not want to die and police told me they would only be able to get my key back if I made a statement."

More than once she was persuaded to take him back.

“He’s saying sorry and acting like a saint because he’s realised that I’m trying to leave. It sort of gaslights you into thinking 'Have I overreacted'? I’ve been fearing for my life for months but am I being over-dramatic? He’s love-bombing me at this time and got back in house."

She says there were multiple times during the relationship when their sex life crossed into a ‘grey area’ of consent while sleeping. The jury acquitted Robinson of a charge of rape relating to this.

The final straw for Kadia came when he raped her while she was asleep in bed holding her baby. She thinks it’s important to shed light on something that by its very nature is often hidden behind closed doors.

“I wouldn’t have reported any of this if I hadn’t had the baby in my arms. I wouldn’t have said anything. It was him doing it while the baby was in my arms. I felt all the other ones were a grey area. If he had never done that we’d have never got here.

“A lot of people think there is a grey area. When you’re asleep, in the morning or whatever. It’s the fact the kid was in my arms that made me report it.

“We had conversations. Why did you think that was okay? He said it was a bit weird and laughed. He knew that wasn’t okay.

“I wanted nothing to do with this man at this point.”

The escape plan involved changing the locks after Robinson had gone to work and getting to a safe house before he came back. Police told Kadia they could apply for money for a change of locks but it would take a month. She didn't want to wait that long.

“When he moved back in there was almost a point where he had almost convinced social services to discharge us and then I called social services up and said ‘It’s a lie, please help me I need to get out’.”

“I said 'I’ve got to get out and I don’t trust the police and I’m terrified of this man'. I begged them that we can’t involve the police. They need to be kept out of this as long as possible until he’s out of the house.”

The hero of the story is a social worker. Along with a colleague she came to the house on the Monday morning and changed the locks, paying for it out of her own pocket.

“I had a really lovely social services worker, she was really, really wonderful,” says Kadia.

Kadia spent two and a half days giving evidence in the trial. She says her barrister, Kelly Scrivener, was ‘a star’ and praised Judge Stephen Climie for his presiding role.

“I had my own preconceived notions of what people would think of me and it really scared me,” she recalls about her court appearance. “I didn’t think the prosecution and the judge would treat me that kindly either. But big props to Kelly Scrivener. And when the judge came out with some quite nice stuff at the end that was quite nice healing.”

She is now looking to move forward with her life and hoping to study criminology at university. There are lessons she thinks police can learn.

"When I was with him he was already a registered sex offender but met his offender management unit team twice in the two years. He didn’t register his change of addresses and they don’t check on them at all.

“Clare and Sarah’s Laws needs a major reform. If I’d had more detail from the Clare and Sarah’s I would have ended the relationship at the beginning." She is calling for a national conformity on disclosure. At the moment different forces have their own rules and procedures.

“In Devon and Cornwall you have to call 111. I’m sure loads of people have spent 40 minutes on hold and then hung up. There should perhaps be an online request that would be a really good idea."

But she urges women to make the checks when they meet a new partner. Some information is definitely better than none at all.

“Be wary of people, be careful. They distract you. The whole narcissism thing when they get caught out with a lie, they distract you with something funny, charming or love-bombing and it niggles at the back of your brain.

“If you’re feeling that red flag don’t ignore it. If I’m being 100 per cent honest there are multiple points early on in our relationship and I should have thought ‘that’s enough’. It escalated so slowly that by the time you realise ‘I’m really in danger’ you really are in danger by that point.

“For a long time I didn’t realise just quite how much danger I was in. He’d made threats millions of times before but it took a long time before the penny dropped. I try not to judge people too heavily but sometimes you should.

“If something doesn’t sit right in your gut you should trust that. Don’t ignore the red flags for charm.”