June 2007

Pervert given six life sentences

A MAN has been handed six life sentences after subjecting young girls to years of rape and abuse.

Michael Brooks, aged 38, of St Gregory’s Close, Farnworth, pleaded guilty in April to raping and sexually assaulting three girls – one from the age of seven.

Yesterday at Bolton Crown Court, Judge Stephen Everett said Brooks would serve at least eight years before he could be considered for parole and would remain on licence for the rest of his life.

Brooks was given a life sentence for each of the four counts of rape and two further life sentences for two charges of assault by penetration of a girl under 13.

He also admitted five indecent assaults, four offences of performing sex acts with children, five counts of having sex with a child and two counts of possessing indecent images. The offences took place between 1997 and February last year.

Police raided his home after one of his victims reported the abuse to find almost 2,500 indecent images of children and 54 video clips of youngsters being abused on Brooks’ personal computer.

Passing sentence, Judge Everett said: “You groomed a little girl from the age of just seven by firstly indulging your perverted sexual desires with her, before you moved on to raping her when she was just 11 years old, and you raped her many times.

“The seriousness of what you did cannot be underestimated. You took away this girl’s childhood, before moving on to other young girls. The bravery she has shown has been immense.”

Before he was sentenced, Brooks submitted a letter to the court, apologising for what he had done and saying he hoped he could “build bridges” with his victims.

But one of those victims, a 17-year-old girl who was raped and sexually abused from the age of six, said she will never put the ordeal behind her.

Speaking out to encourage more victims to report their attackers’ crimes, she said: “No matter how much I try to push it away, something triggers my memory back to him; something he used to say or used to do.

“It sounds sickening. I knew it was wrong but it had been going on for that long it just became normal.”

The truth came out when she told a friend about the abuse, who then told her own parents about it.

“I don’t know what made me feel like it was the right time to say something. It just came out,” said the victim.

“I just wanted to let other people know that it may seem hard at first when you say something, but in the end it’s worthwhile because you have stopped it from happening to yourself and to others.”

Det Con Steph Parker said: “I can’t praise the victim enough for her courage and strength she has shown. It gives hope to other victims of abuse and I would urge them to come forward. The police do listen and justice has been served.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the sentence and the victims will now be able to move on with their lives.”