‘Brutal’ family secret discovered during research for Dagenham book

Scott and his mum, Dorothy Lilian Steptoe

Scott and his mum, Dorothy Lilian Steptoe - Credit: Archant

Scott Redmond always knew there was something peculiar about his family – but what he read in a Post cutting was even worse than he’d imagined.

The first line from Scott's book, Dagenham Days

The first line from Scott's book, Dagenham Days - Credit: Archant

Sitting in Valence House’s archive and local studies centre clutching a Dagenham Post clipping from 1953, Scott felt his body go numb.

Having found out days earlier his mum had appeared at the Old Bailey as a teenager, he’d assumed the quiet woman he grew up with had been a victim of crime.

Now he knew his family secret. His mum had been sitting in the dock, not the witness stand.

“We’ve all done things we haven’t told our mum about, but you don’t expect your mum to have done things she hasn’t told you about – especially something like this. It was brutal,” he said.

Scott Redmond

Scott Redmond - Credit: Archant

“I always felt there was something peculiar about my family. Everything I’d accepted as a kid I started to question in adult life. My family refused to give me answers so I decided to find out for myself.”

Scott Redmond, 44, grew up in Ivyhouse Road, Dagenham, the second youngest of five siblings who only came together for birthdays or Christmas each year.

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He started writing a book about his childhood in October 2013, never imagining his research would unearth secrets buried in the family for half a century.

Ironically, he had been first inspired to write after reading Kath Hardy’s autobiography Secrets My Mother Kept.

Scott outside the Redmond family home in Ivyhouse Road, 1974

Scott outside the Redmond family home in Ivyhouse Road, 1974 - Credit: Archant

The author grew up on a

Dagenham council estate and confronted her past after finding a bundle of letters when her mother died.

“She was from Valence Avenue and she name dropped loads of places around Dagenham in the book,” Scott said.

“I loved it so much I wanted to do the same. I started writing down nostalgic memories from childhood, examining the way my family was.

“I began by explaining what my childhood was like and trying to pinpoint why I always felt different. I knew something was odd.

“Reading Kath’s book about secrets her mother kept ended up leading to me uncovering all these secrets my mother kept from me.”

The more research Scott did about his family the more he uncovered.

It was after coming across an article in the Post from 1953 he discovered his mum had been on trial at the Central Criminal Court that year.

She was released on probation for two years and married Scott’s father just four days after the trial.

Growing up, Scott said his mother was a quiet person and he found it strange she didn’t go out or have a life of her own. He felt she lived to please his dad “to her expense” and would often make excuses for his behaviour.

His father he described as a “charming but intimidating” man whose mood dictated the mood of the house.

In 1991 Scott’s mum died from a heart attack aged 54. His dad died two decades later in 2011.

“They’re not around to ask any more, but finding this out made the penny drop about my mum’s behaviour at home.

“It was a shock because she was such a quiet person. When I set out to look for answers I didn’t see this coming it all.

“Families keep things to protect you and it appears my older siblings knew about everything all along. I thought I was close to my mum but she always had her reasons to keep this quiet.

“I was hurt my siblings knew and never told me. They hate that I’ve written this book. But I’ve lived my whole life in the shadows of my family and now I know the truth.”

Scott reveals the family’s secret in his book Dagenham Days. It will be published on the self-publishing site createspace and uploaded on Amazon next year. He has Facebook and Twitter pages dedicated to the book, where he shares snippets and posts pictures from his childhood. He also shares ‘doodles’ triggered by the subjects he writes about.

Read more: Book project leads man to discovery of a ‘brutal’ secret