Brave Shannon Clifton (pictured) today tells for the first time of her eight years of vile sexual abuse and beatings at the hands of her paedophile father (pictured)
Now 18, she waves her anonymity to reveal the monster first raped her on their living room floor at the age of six.
And after she became pregnant again at 13, twisted Clifton Googled ways to make her miscarry, forcing her into dangerous exercise routines.
When she was nine months’ pregnant, a suspicious school nurse asked her to take a pregnancy test.
Terrified Shannon refused, but her father feared his sickening crimes were about to be exposed and forced her to join him on the run, sparking a six-day police manhunt.
Two days after they were found Shannon gave birth to a baby that was both her son – and her brother.
Clifton, 36, got a minimum 15 years life sentence for rape at Derby Crown Court in 2015.
Neither he nor his daughter could be named – but the case hit the headlines as tragic, brainwashed Shannon screamed in court: “I love you Dad, I miss you.”
Three years on, having escaped her hell at Clifton’s hands, her feelings are much more complicated. Now she is speaking out to persuade other abused children to seek help.
“He stole my life,” she says. “He turned it into a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from – raping and beating me for years. I was frightened and in pain every day.
“I hate my dad now, but I will always miss him because he was the only person I had throughout my whole childhood.”
Until Shannon was five, her family life was fairly normal – “birthday parties with a bouncy castle, fun trips out” with her siblings.
That all changed after her parents split and she went to live with her father.
The court heard how cunning binman Clifton had “poisoned her” against her mother.
“I was always my dad’s favourite, his little princess,” says Shannon.
“If my mum ever shouted at me, he’d tell her, ‘Don’t speak to my Shannon like that’. He was so protective. We were inseparable.”
So she went to live with him alone, aged five. “He changed quickly,” she says.
“He’d scream if I did something he didn’t like, then it was a slap around the head. Then he started punching me. Over the years, he burnt me with an iron, attacked me with a hammer, stabbed me and split my head open.”
Clifton turned her against the rest of the family until she stopped seeing them.
And, then, when she was six years old and isolated from anyone who might help her, the worst torture began.
“He got me up in the night and made me lie on the floor in my nightie,” she says. “Then he lay on top of me and just did it. I felt the worst pain imaginable. I was screaming for him to stop, but he wouldn’t.
“Afterwards I lay there bleeding. I was sobbing so much I could barely breathe.”
The rapes became regular – and the little girl bravely fought back in vain.
“He would always say sorry afterwards,” says Shannon. “When he’d finished, I’d play with my toys to distract myself.
“He said it was something all dads did to daughters, but I had to keep it secret. He’d hug me and promise it would never happen again.
But it always did. Yet I still loved him. He was all I had.”
The attacks gathered pace, up to four times a day. “He would even make me have sex with him in the woods,” says Shannon.
“He’d film it and once made me watch it. I was crying – it was so horrible.”
At 11, Shannon fell pregnant. Confused and frightened, she hid it the best she could until blurting it out to him at 28 weeks.
“I got beat up really bad and knocked out. I don’t recall it that clearly,” says Shannon. “But I remember one minute I had a baby inside me and the next there was blood everywhere and the baby was gone.”
When she fell pregnant again at 13, Clifton again tried to make Shannon miscarry – even looking up ways online. When it didn’t work, Shannon claims he came up with a plan to kill her baby after birth.
Wiping away tears, she says: “That was the most evil thing he ever did or said. He went into detail – I can’t talk about it.”
With her growing bump becoming hard to hide, Shannon was called in by the school nurse and asked to take a pregnancy test. She refused and fled. That night, police swooped on their flat.
“As soon as he saw them, Dad told me to climb over the fence at the back and run across the fields. He followed.”
They spent six nights sleeping rough as police appealed for sightings. Shannon recalls: “It was October. I was freezing, exhausted and frightened. We moved around all the time. I had pains, but kept telling myself, ‘You can’t go into labour yet, you need to be found first’.”
When Clifton broke cover to take Shannon into Derby, police cornered him.
“We tried to run, but a police car swung round in the street and dad was arrested,” says Shannon. Alone for the first time in years, she gave birth to her baby boy in hospital two days later.
She says: “I loved him instantly. I thought, ‘He is my life now.’ But he was my brother. It was so confusing.”
She kept the tot until a week before his first birthday when, alone and living in care, Shannon bravely decided to give him up for adoption. I couldn’t give him everything he needed,” she says. “I wanted him to grow up with a nice family, one I never had. I’ll always be his mum.”
After a DNA test proved Clifton was the boy’s father he admitted rape – but said his crimes began when Shannon was 10.
Astonishingly, she hasn’t completely retracted that courtroom vow of love. “I’m getting better, but there’ll always be some kind of love for my dad,” she says.
Despite that, her biggest fear is that one day he will kill her. “I worry about it,” she says. He has a lifetime restraining order, but will that matter? He’ has nothing to lose.”
Meanwhile, her ordeal has left her with PTSD in the form of frightening flashbacks. She attempted suicide at 16 – but with the help of a kind foster family, Shannon finally began to rebuild her life.
Now she is renting her own flat and will start a criminal psychology degree in September, and hopes that will help her understand some of her father’s motives.
She says: “I’ll never know exactly why my dad did what he did, but my aim is to help other abuse victims who read this – so they can find the help they need.”