A MAN who raped a 12-year-old schoolgirl after encountering her in a Farnworth street has been jailed for eight years.

Shaw Dennis was sat in his car when he was approached by the girl who asked him for a cigarette.

Dennis, aged 40, then exchanged phone numbers with his victim and later contacted her arranging to meet.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Dennis paid her £50 to carry out a sex act on him but was caught after the schoolgirl’s mother accessed her phone and spotted their messages.

Dennis, of Eskdale Grove, Farnworth, denied any sexual contact with his victim but was convicted by a jury following a trial.

The court heard how the girl was described as vulnerable and was “lonely” and “seeking attention”.

In December 2019 she was walking at the rear of the Barnardos charity shop when she saw Dennis sitting in his parked car.

Rachel Faux, prosecuting, told how he was smoking and she asked him for a cigarette.

“He gave her a cigarette, told her she was 'pretty fit' and asked her for her telephone number,” said Miss Faux.

On December 30 he messaged her telling her “I have missed you” and explicit texts passed between them before she she asked him how much he would pay her for sex.

Miss Faux said that Dennis’ victim had reminded him that she was a schoolgirl but he had replied: “You don’t look 12 but no one’s going to find out so it’s alright.”

The following day they met up and she carried out a sex act on him in his car.

"An elderly woman approached defendant's car and knocked on the window, interrupting the sexual activity," said Miss Faux, who added that Dennis then drove away.

Later that day the girl told a friend she had performed oral sex for money and they agreed to use some of the cash to buy a bottle of vodka.

The next month Dennis rang her again, said his mum had been unwell and asked to meet up, but two days later her mother saw the messages between them on her phone she went to police.

Miss Faux said that in a victim statement the girl described  herself as being lonely. 

"She wanted attention from anyone she could get it from," said Miss Faux.

"She was only 12 and she says at the time she didn't fully understand the risk she was putting herself in and how she was taken advantage of."

James Heyworth, defending Dennis, told the court that he has previously undergone major surgery to remove an abscess behind his eye which has left him with neurological difficulties affecting his personality, including a tendency to be impulsive.

Following a trial last month Dennis was convicted of raping a child, sexually assaulting a child and having sexual communication with a child.

Judge Graeme Smith told Dennis he had come up with "very clever explanations" for the messages but it was clear that sexual activity had taken place and he knew his victim was a child, although it is possible that he did not realise she was only aged 12.

The judge jailed him for eight years and placed him on the sex offenders' register for life.

Following the sentencing PC Jackie Millen, of Greater Manchester Police’s Child Sexual Exploitation Unit in Bolton, said: “I’d like to thank the victim and their family for their bravery and co-operation through the investigation and consequent trial.

“Ensuring that victims are safeguarded and offenders face justice are our highest priorities.

“I hope that today’s sentencing provides a sense of justice to the victim and their family and serves as a warning to offenders.

“I encourage young people who are, or anyone else who suspects a young person is being inappropriately contacted by an adult,whether in person or via the internet, to report it to an appropriate adult or agency. This could be a parent, carer, teacher, or the police.”