The courage of two young survivors of a prolific and sustained period of sexual abuse by a depraved couple from Bury have been praised by detectives after their abusers were jailed for over 25 years.
John Mills (38) and Tiffany Eccles (27) were sentenced yesterday (Monday 9 May) at Manchester Crown Court after previously admitting over 20 offences between them – including rape, sexual assault, and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The court heard how we first became aware of the couple’s campaign of offending in November 2021 after a teenage girl bravely attended Bury police station with her mother to report Mills and Eccles for sexually assaulting her for a period of almost five years – starting when she was aged just eight-years-old.
During her account with police at the station, the girl described – in detail – several incidents of serious sexual offences committed by the pair, with Mills often inciting the victim to ‘do things’ involving himself and Eccles, engaging in sexual activity with them both at the same time.
It was also described how Mills would sometimes be drunk when committing the acts, and over the course of the abuse he was found to have sexually assaulted the girl at a camping site in Cumbria, raped her in a car on a dirt-track in Farnworth, at an address in Whitefield and at multiple addresses in Bury.
As well as trying to communicate in a sexual manner with her via social media, Mills encouraged the girl to engage in sexual activity with Eccles and forced the victim to watch footage of Eccles having sexual intercourse with one of Mills’ friends.
On the evening of the day the report was made, officers arrested the couple and brought them into custody for questioning regarding the offences the victim had courageously disclosed.
Following the arrests, a second report was made to police by another teenage girl who also alleged serious and persistent offending of a sexual nature perpetrated by the couple, the abuse starting when the girl was as young as three-years old.
The girl spoke of how Mills would routinely ask to do sexual acts with her and even told her about the activity he engaged in with the first victim when he raped her for the first time.
Eccles would regularly be described as present, actively engaging in the abuse and encouraging the victims to act on Mills’ requests.
The couple – from Bury – were charged following their interviews following the quality and detail of evidence provided by both girls, before Mills and Eccles proceeded to admit the offences they were accused of in court.
Now Mills, of Rochdale Road, was jailed for 19 years and three months with an extended period of two years on license after admitting three counts of rape of a child under 13, three counts of
assault of a child under 13 by penetration, and two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity – in relation to the first victim.
In relation to the second girl, he admitted three counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, six counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
Eccles, of Rochdale Road, was jailed for seven years and two months for – in relation to the first victim – one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, and two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
In relation to the second victim, she pled guilty to one count of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and 1 count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
They must serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before being considered for parole; they have also received indefinite sexual harm prevention orders and restraining orders relating to both victims.
Both girls have received dedicated specialist support from police and partners during the investigation and have been praised by our investigating officers.
Anyone who feels affected by this case is encouraged to contact us knowing that information will be dealt with the strictest confidence and action will be taken to bring offenders to justice for their actions.
Detective Constable Nichola McGregor, from GMP Bury district’s newly-formed Child Protection Investigation Unit, said: “I would first and foremost like to thank the two young victims that bravely came forward to speak to the police – without their support, John Mills and Tiffany Eccles would more than likely have continued to commit offences.
“Their courage has helped secure lengthy prison terms for both offenders, ensuring they are no longer out in the community engaging in their predatory actions.
“The two girls have endured repeated sexual abuse, the like of which nobody should have to endure, but – despite their young age – their tenacity and resilience throughout the investigation and court process has been astounding; they truly are a credit to themselves.
“Mills and Eccles jointly and systematically sexually abused these two children over numerous years and in multiple locations. They took advantage of their vulnerability; they groomed them, trying to convince them that the depraved acts they were engaging in were normal behaviours.
“Their sentencing will hopefully bring some closure to their two survivors who have spoken to us and send out the message to anyone that behaves in this way that GMP will do everything we can to bring paedophiles like Mills and Eccles to justice.
“We take this kind of report extremely serious. I would encourage anybody who feels they have been the victim of offences such as above to get in touch with the police.”
Anyone with information or concerns about someone being sexually abused is encouraged to contact us online via our LiveChat facility, if able, or by calling 101.
Details can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Greater Manchester is nationally recognised as a model of good practice in terms of support services available to victims.
If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police, or a support agency so you can get the help and support available.
– Saint Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.
– Greater Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 .
– Survivors Manchester provides specialist trauma informed support to boys and men in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.