‘Predatory’ rapist groomed children

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A rapist who used drugs, alcohol and other gifts to groom and abuse two young girls has been jailed for 12 years.

Predator Joel Eaves, of Bolton Road, Carleton, admitted a string of sex offences including two counts of rape at Preston Crown Court.

Joel Eaves has been jailed for 12 years for a string of child sex offences including rape.

Joel Eaves has been jailed for 12 years for a string of child sex offences including rape.

The 27-year-old spotted the girls, aged 11 and 13, who were wearing school uniforms at the time, while he was driving to work.

He groomed the pair over a four-year period, during which time he forced them to perform sex acts on him.

Speaking after he was sentenced, the detective who led the investigation, said Eaves was a “persistent, determined and manipulative” offender.

Det Con Steph Gelson, of Blackpool’s public protection unit, added: “The judge said he had an unlawful and persistent interest in young girls.

“He has targeted these girls and exploited them by giving them alcohol, drugs and gifts as part of the grooming process.”

The court heard the offences took place over a four-year period between 2008 and 2011.

Det Con Gelson praised the two victims for coming forward and helping bring Eaves to justice.

She said: “This has dragged on for some time but he has finally been sentenced.

“The girls have struggled with this and they are just extremely relieved it has been concluded.

“The reason they came forward was for the safety of other children.”

Eaves was yesterday ordered to serve a minimum of eight years behind bars after pleading guilty to nine offences.

He admitted two counts of rape of child under 13, six counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was handed a 12-year jail sentence and will spend a further five year on extended licence upon his release.

He was already the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order from a previous court case.

Det Con Gelson welcomed the tough sentence.

She said: “This started when one of the victims was 11 and the other was 13.

“They were in their school uniforms and he has driven past in his car on his way to work, beeping and wolf-whistling out the window.

“He stopped and asked them their ages.”

She said the sentence shows how seriously police and courts take these offences, adding: “I hope this will encourage other victims to come forward.”