A ‘clever and manipulative’ sexual predator raped a young girl whose mother he had met through an internet dating site – and threatened to kill her family’s dog if she told anyone.
And in what a judge described as ‘the grossest breach of trust,’ the man, who cannot be named to protect the identities of his victims, also sexually abused the girl’s two sisters.
The 47-year-old, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to raping the girl when she was 14 or 15 and a number of offences of sexual assault.
He was given an extended prison sentence of nine years in jail, of which he will have to serve at least two-thirds, after which he will be released on licence for the rest of the term and for an additional three years.
In addition he was ordered to register as a sex offender for life and made subject to a restraining order banning him from entering Rugby for 15 years.
Prosecutor John Hallissey said the girls’ mother had met the man through an online dating site, on which she had described herself as a single mother, and a relationship developed.
But after they moved in together there were ‘intermittent disclosures’ by the girl to a friend, and the matter was reported to school staff, only for her to withdraw what she said.
When she was 13 she made a further disclosure at school, asking for her abuser to be present with a view to confronting him, but withdrew her complaint when her mother turned up as well.
But eventually the police became involved and she took part in a video-recorded interview in which she described how she had been systematically abused after the defendant had moved in.
Sometimes after he had abused her, he would cry and she found herself in the strange situation of having to comfort him.
He also subjected her to threats when she did something wrong, telling her he would tell her mother unless she was his for a period of time, during which she had to do as he told her.
Mr Hallissey said that after the girl finally came forward, her sisters also revealed that the defendant had abused them when they were 13 or 14.
Graeme Simpson, defending, said: “The most serious count is the rape, and it’s inevitable in a case such as this that Your Honour will elevate the starting point.
“He has struggled with his demons, even at the time of committing these offences.”
But Judge Richard Griffith-Jones commented: “He spotted she was a good-natured as well as a sensitive and intelligent girl, and one way of manipulating her was to make her feel sorry for him as well as by being intimidating.”
And he told the defendant: “You were a sexual predator, and a clever and manipulative one at that.
“You set the parameters by a mixture of bribes and threats, sometimes emotional and sometimes physical, and it went on for years. It is the grossest breach of trust.”