Preston man who raped 13 year-old schoolgirl in woodland caged

Declan Cross, 20, of Rose Lane, Holme Slack, Preston, was sent to a young offender's institute for five years, with an extended four year licence, for rape
Declan Cross, 20, of Rose Lane, Holme Slack, Preston, was sent to a young offender's institute for five years, with an extended four year licence, for rape
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A mechanic who raped a 13-year-old Preston schoolgirl three years ago has been sent to a young offender’s institute for five years, with an extended four year licence.

Declan Cross, 20, of Rose Lane, Holme Slack, Preston, was found guilty by a jury last month of attacking the girl in November 2013, but continues to protest his innocence.

She was completely out of her depth. She said she had no control. You took her to the ground and you raped her.

Appearing by video link from HMP Preston at Preston Crown Court, he stood with his arms folded as he spoke to confirm his name.

Preston Crown Court heard the youngster was tormented by the fact she had not at first been believed.

Cross had led the girl to a “secluded area of woodland”.

Judge Christopher Cornwall said: “She was young and inexperienced. She, and the friend she was with, broadcast a message on their phones issuing a general invitation to people in their contacts list to come and join them for nothing more than a social meeting and chat.

“You were the only one to respond and it was not long after you had met up with them that the incident occurred with her. Her friend had left and in an instant she realised she had made a dreadful error.

“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. She wasn’t treated with sympathy but instead with disbelief. It’s difficult to understand how people could behave in that way.”

Prosecuting, Kathryn Johnson said: “In a victim personal statement, the girl says she has been suffering sleeplessness, nightmares, and difficulties with friends and at school. There was a significant degree of planning in relation to this matter.”

Defending, Sharon Watson disagreed, adding: “This isn’t a case where he is accused of any trickery or underhand tactics. The invitation came from her phone. In that sense the meeting was not planned in any real sense. Your honour has already noted he’s 20, but at the time of the offence he was only 17 and he has no previous convictions for violence or sexual matters.”

Members of Cross’ family cried in the public gallery as sentence was passed.