July 2021

Smiling child rapist reads book called ‘Can I Forgive Myself?’ as he’s caged for 28 years

A depraved child rapist who abused two young girls and a boy before grooming a 15-year-old girl read a book as a crown court judge sentenced him to 28 years in prison.

Paedophile Mark Coward had to be muted as he removed his shoes and made comments across the video link from prison broadcast to Leeds Crown Court.

The 39-year-old had stood trial for launching a campaign of rape and abuse of a girl aged under 10 when he was 15 or 16 years old.

He was convicted of five counts of rape and one charge of indecent assault and was further convicted of another rape in relation to a second young girl around three years later.

Coward’s final conviction in that trial was for the rape of a boy under 10 when he was aged 34.

It was also revealed Coward admitted five counts of sexual activity with a child after grooming a vulnerable 15-year-old girl and told her he wanted to get her pregnant.

The court heard Coward told his victim they would pretend she was 16 and his offending came to light when the teenager’s mum reported her missing.

During police interviews, the predator admitted knowing the girl was 15 and made vile comments including “girls are girls, boys are boys, age doesn’t matter, she wanted it”.

It was then revealed Coward asked his victim to move in with him.

Once some time had passed and his victim had struck up a relationship with someone closer to her age, Coward bombarded her new boyfriend with a series of threats including “do you know who you are f***ing with?”.

In April 2020 he was arrested again by police and admitted that he should have waited until the girl turned 16.

Coward was seen to wear a mask as he appeared over video link and chose to read a book titled “Can I forgive myself?” as he was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

He had also taken steps to prevent his offending coming to the attention of the victims’ parents by saying bad things would happen to their mum or dad.

Judge Neil Clark sentenced Coward, of Morning Street, Keighley, to 28 years in prison and imposed an extended licence period of two years