Survivor praised for key evidence that helps jail child sex offender for over a dozen years

A man from Wigan who sent sexually-motivated messages over a sustained period to a girl nearly four decades younger than him has been jailed for 14 years after key evidence from his survivor.

The victim – now aged 16-years-old – has been praised by investigators after bravely reporting to us Michael Dennett (54) and then supporting our probe into his year of offending against her between 2017 and 2018 when she was aged just 12-13.

Manchester Crown Court heard how Dennett, of Poolstock Lane, started messaging the girl after the breakdown of his relationship and began to embark on a persistent campaign of sexually-motivated offending; sending her indecent images and asking her to send them in return.

Dennett’s offending was also physical as the victim spoke of wanting him to ‘leave her alone’ when he would try to hug and kiss her, but she ‘felt like she couldn’t say no’ as he also would inappropriately touch her.

It was reported to police initially after her mum had found sexualised messages on her phone from Dennett before subsequent disclosures came from the victim around sexual assaults.

Dennett was initially arrested for the communication in November 2018 and then subsequently interviewed in February and November 2019 as enquiries continued and forensic evidence was collated.

When we first interviewed Dennett in November 2018, he refused to provide comment when asked about some of the messages we had seen he’d been sending to the victim.

As enquiries by our Wigan Child Sexual Exploitation team continued, the victim reported a new allegation prompting us to arrest Dennett for a second time where he didn’t admit any offences and suggested that the victim had been ‘put up to this’.

Due to the detail of evidence the victim was able to provide us, we were able to charge Dennett with nine offences – including three counts of sexual assault of a child, one count of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, four counts of sexual activity with a child and one count of sexual communication with a child.

He was found guilty after a trial in February 2020 of the communication offence, before being convicted of the remainder of the offences in a re-trial earlier this month.

Yesterday (Thursday 28 April) Dennett was sentenced to serve 14 years in prison and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order indefinitely.

The survivor of Dennett’s abuse has received ongoing specialist support throughout the case and we have praised her for the evidence she was able to provide to us and the courts to help bring her offender to justice.

Police Constable Vicki Flemming, from our Wigan Child Sexual Exploitation team, said: “I want to firstly pay tribute to the survivor of this campaign of sexual abuse for their bravery in not only reporting this incident to us, but for also having the courage to give evidence in court that was key to the success of this case.

“Michael Dennett’s offending was predatory and repulsive and it’s clear that he was a clear danger to this child and deserves his place behind bars for a number of years to come.

“We are committed to bringing to justice any sex offenders – especially those who target children as a way of gratifying their own depraved and perverted desires – and I want any victim of such abuse to know that we are here to listen to your concerns and to take thorough and robust action to bring offenders to justice.”

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 or email us.

– 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.

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