'High risk' Darwen paedophile admits sex attacks on young girls

Lancashire Telegraph: James Corbett James Corbett

A ‘HIGH risk’ sex offender and convicted killer aged 74 is facing a long jail term after admitting a string of rapes and sex assaults on children.

James Joseph Corbett, of Ashton Road, Darwen, pleaded guilty to 14 charges, including four specimen charges of rape on a girl from when she was aged 11 to 15.

The other charges range from an attack on a 14-year-old girl in 1969 in Accrington to sex assaults on girls in the 1990s and rapes in the last five years.

Corbett, who is originally from Belfast in Northern Ireland, served six years in jail in the 1970s after being convicted of the manslaughter of a stewardess in a working men’s club in Accrington after he strangled her.

He also has convictions for firearms offences in Belfast and drug importation in the 1980s while living in Accrington.

Corbett was made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) earlier this year after police found photographs of children on his phone.

The order banned him from having contact with anyone under the age of 16, taking pictures of anyone under the age of 16 or possessing any device capable of taking images unless he made it available to a police officer for inspection when requested.

Corbett has numerous previous offences of a sexual nature, the last in 1996 when he was convicted of 14 indecent assaults on six different girls under the age of 14 and served four years in jail. And now he has been convicted of sex attacks on a total of nine girls.

Police said the latest conviction came about when victims came forward after reading in the Lancashire Telegraph that he had been given a SOPO. Corbett admitted two counts of sexual activity with a child, one of indecent assault, two assaults by penetration of a child under 13, six of sexual assault of a child under 13 and four rapes at Preston Crown Court.

Det Insp Paul Langley said: “James Corbett is a particularly nasty individual who has used violence and threats of violence throughout his criminal career.

“He intimidated his victims and their families and was an extremely manipulative man.

“These were horrendous crimes committed over a span of more than 40 years.” He will be sentenced at Preston Crown Court in February.

He strangled stewardess with bar towel, then went for drink

IN 1975, May Rothera, the 61-year-old stewardess of the Miners’ Club in Accrington, was killed when she was strangled by someone using a bar towel.

James Corbett, who was 37-years-old at the time and living in Clayton-le-Moors, was arrested on suspicion of murder shortly after the killing at on July 28, 1975.

He denied murder but eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter due to diminished responsibility after telling Preston Crown Court he was an alcoholic and couldn’t remember much of the incident.

He was sentenced to six years in prison on December 4, 1975. Mrs Rothera’s body was discovered in the secretary’s office behind the bar of the Miners’ Club by her husband Tony Rothera and club committee member David Mason.

She had been left in charge of the club while Mr Rothera went home next door to have his tea. Corbett was the only customer in at the time.

Corbett, who was working at the time as a machinist for James Bradley Ltd, of Blackburn, said in evidence he did not know what he was doing because he was ‘in a mist’.

He said: “I was pulling the towel around her neck with all my might and when her body hit me I suddenly knew what I was doing.

“If I could have given May back her life the next day I would gladly have given my own life for it.”

After attacking Mrs Rothera he went for a drink in the Black Bull in King Street before going home, where he was arrested.

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