A rapist who was jailed for 17 years for sexually abusing a young girl has died from rectal cancer.

Robert Cain, of Holmbrook Close, Blackburn, was found guilty of 17 attacks on the youngster dating back to when she was under the age of 13 and was jailed for his crimes in 2014.

The attacks included three counts of sexual assault, eight counts of rape and a further two counts of inciting a female to engage in sexual activity without consent.

As well as the lengthy prison sentence, he was also made subject to a life-long sexual offences prevention order with Judge Christopher Cornwall saying that the offences had cast a ‘dark shadow’ over the victim’s life.

Cain, who was 35 at the time he was jailed, died in hospital on December 28, 2022, of metastatic rectal cancer (cancer of the rectum which had spread to other parts of his body), while a prisoner at HMP Leyhill in Gloucestershire. He was 43 years old.

An investigation found no issues with the care Cain received while in prison.

Lancashire Telegraph: Robert CainRobert Cain (Image: Lancs Police)

A report published last month by the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman (PPO) stated that Cain had spent time in several prisons since his incarceration, including Forest Bank in Manchester, before being transferred to Doncaster’s HMP Moorland in 2017.

On August 1, 2017, Cain saw a GP because for two months he had been frequently and urgently defecating with mucus, wind and some blood.

The report stated: “The GP found a rectal mass and referred Cain for scans and a biopsy under the two-week suspected cancer pathway (which requires patients with suspected cancer to be seen by a specialist within two weeks).

“On September 4, Cain went to hospital for a colonoscopy and on October 5 hospital staff told him that he had rectal cancer which had spread to other part of his body.”

Cain had a colostomy in October 2017 and was referred for chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which he accepted, but in March 2018, he had another operation to remove his rectum.

A follow-up CT scan conducted in July 2019 showed Cain was stable, however in January 2020 it was discovered by hospital staff that his cancer had returned and had spread to his right lung.

On September 3 2020, Cain was transferred to HMP Leyhill and a month later he began a further course of chemotherapy, which continued throughout 2021.

The PPO report went on: “Following a risk assessment, prison staff arranged release on temporary licence for Mr Cain.

“This meant that he was able to attend hospital appointments by himself without a prison officer supervising him.

“On October 25, 2022, a hospital nurse told Mr Cain that the cancer was growing, and that further treatment would not have any effect.

“On December 16, after Mr Cain’s condition worsened hospital staff sent him to hospital where, on  December 28, he died.”

There was no post-mortem examination and a hospital doctor gave the cause of death as metastatic rectal cancer.

At an inquest held on January 4, 2024, the coroner concluded that Cain died from natural causes.

The report concluded: “The clinical reviewer concluded that the clinical care that Mr Cain received at Leyhill was equivalent to, if not better than, that which he could have expected to receive in the community.

“The clinical reviewer made no recommendations. We found no non-clinical issues of concern.

“The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman family liaison officer wrote to Mr Cain’s mother to explain the investigation, and to ask if she had any matters she wanted us to consider. She did not respond.”

When Cain was jailed in 2014, Det Insp Paul Barlow, from the public protection unit, said the case was particularly difficult, but had been professionally handled by the team.

He said: “The sentence handed to Cain reflects the serious nature if the offences committed against a vulnerable young girl.

“The victims of these kinds of horrific offences will continue to be a priority for Lancashire Constabulary.”