Craig Bennett – Repeat Sex Offender – An Animal

Craig Bennett, 44, subjected the terrified child to a “depraved and disturbing attack” after asking him to help look for a missing dog in a secluded spot.

The victim eventually managed to break free and flag down a passing vehicle which took him home.

Police later traced Bennett – who recently married his homosexual partner in a civil ceremony – and discovered he had been convicted of rape 16 years earlier in the same field in Darwen, Lancashire.

Before the 1993 attack Bennett had approached a young boy and talked to him about football before subjecting him to the ordeal.

He had also been the subject of a police manhunt in 2000 and a branded a danger to boys when he fled his probation hostel after being freed from jail.

The latest attack occurred two months after a policewoman had carried out a sex offenders’ address check at his home in Darwen.

Bennett, also known as Craig Preece, is facing life behind bars after being convicted of kidnap, kidnap with intent to commit a sexual offence, two counts of rape and one count of threats to kill at Preston Crown Court. He will be sentenced later in the week.

After the case Det Supt Graham Hermann, of Lancashire Police force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “This is an example of when a registered sex offender goes on to commit a further serious offence.

“It shows that despite all the good work that goes into managing these individuals by dedicated staff in all agencies the only way to eliminate risk is to watch them 24 hours a day.

“This is the only one last year out of over a 1000 registered sex offenders who went on to commit a further serious offence, although this is no consolation to the child and family in this case, it should be reassuring to the public.

“The fact that Bennett was caught so quickly was testament to the level of knowledge of the supervising team of his description and habits, and undoubtedly stopped him from going on to commit other offences.”

The unnamed boy had been playing out on the night of the attack in May last year and had left a friend to go to Sudellside Off Licence to buy a chocolate bar.

He saw two men in a car driving slowly along the streets as though they were looking for a dog and a third man who spoke to them from a bus stop.

The boy said he offered to help the lone man look for the dog and the man later offered him £10 to continue the search.

The pair went to the nearby Marsh House wooded area on Baileys Field in Darwen but as it became dark the boy said he would have to go.

He tried to leave, but Bennett tied his hands together with a belt and attacked him.

Tim Brennand, prosecuting, said: “The commission of this offence, in broad daylight, required forethought, planning, cunning, charm, guile and a willingness to resort to extreme violence in order to satiate his perverted and grotesque fantasy in the abduction and abuse of a young boy.”

The boy’s father told the court: “You would have had to have known him to know how different he is now. His confidence is blown. He doesn’t do a lot of the stuff that he used to. He won’t go out to play.”

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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