A man who groomed a schoolgirl via Blackbery Messenger for five months before raping her in woods near Preston North End’s stadium has been jailed.Advertisement
Declan Cross, now 20, met up with the 13-year-old girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, in woods close to Deepdale.
The attack, which happened in late November 2013, was the culmination of five months of messaging on the smartphone service.
During the trial the youngster bravely gave a harrowing account of how Cross, a mechanic who lived in Rose Lane, Holme Slack, took hold of her by the wrists and led her to nearby woodland where he raped her.
At the time of the attack, Cross was 17 and knew the girl was only 13.
The youngster told a friend, but word spread and rather than receive help, she was treated with disbelief by other pupils at her school.
In February 2014 the youngster told a school nurse about the attack. Cross was questioned but maintained he had not raped the youngster.
Judge Christopher Cornwall, sentencing Cross to five years in a young offenders institute, said: “She was completely out of her depth. She said she had no control. You took her to the ground and you raped her.
“Your behaviour has had terrible consequences for her. She confided in a friend who seemingly spoke to someone else, and people at school got to know about this.
The judge said Cross was “a dangerous offender” and added a four year extended licence period to his prison sentence.