A man has admitted raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Preston.
Christopher Croston, 31, formerly of the Netherton area of Liverpool, pleaded guilty to the offences at Preston Crown Court yesterday.
Croston followed his victim as she walked home in Ribbleton on Monday, September 30.
She had been out with friends around 8.10pm and was walking home along Ribbleton Avenue when she was approached by Croston who tried to engage her in conversation.
The schoolgirl continued to walk home, but when she got near to the RSPCA building, she was dragged down a set of steps near the old health centre, pushed to the floor and subjected her to a sexual assault.
Believed to have been disturbed by a member of public, Croston then ran off in the direction of Ribbleton Hall Drive.
Police launched a manhunt to find the attacker, with officers carrying out numerous CCTV, forensic and house to house inquires.
Eventually, Croston was traced to an address in Liverpool where he was arrested.
Detective Inspector Richard McCutcheon, of Lancashire’s Force Major Investigation Team, said: “This was a despicable crime committed by a horrible individual.”
He added: “The only positive action by Croston is that he has pleaded guilty to the offences as this will at least spare his victim having to go through a trial.
“This man has put a young girl through what must have been a terrifying and traumatic ordeal.
“She has been extremely brave and courageous throughout the investigation and has been supported by specially trained officers.
“We will continue to offer that support for as long as it is required.”
Croston will be sentenced on February 14.