A man who sexually abused eight young victims, including raping a four-year-old boy, has been jailed for 22 years.
A judge also imposed an extended three year licence and told 48-year-old John Phillips that while he could apply for parole after serving half his sentence he might not be released until 2040.
Phillips, of Wharton Road, Winsford, had absconded on the first day of his trial earlier this month and it began in his absence before he was caught by police by which time one of this victims, whom he had raped when the boy was about 12, had undergone the ordeal of giving his evidence and being cross-examined.
Change of pleas
After being apprehended Phillips, formerly of Runcorn and Widnes, changed his plea to guilty to 15 sex offences and the other six he faced were ordered to lie on the file.
Sentencing him on Friday afternoon (April 20), Judge Rachel Smith said that he had groomed his vulnerable victims over a 15-year period and victim impact statements spoke of the profound affect his behaviour had had on their lives.
He had showered some of the victims, both girls and boys, with gifts but Judge Smith said that he was not being philanthropic - 'it is clear you were grooming them to take advantage of them'.
'Destroyed their childhoods'
Arthur Gibson, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court, that all but one of the victims were children and the other was in her late teens and the charges, some of which were specimen offences, ranged from sexual touching to rape. “He destroyed their innocence and their childhood,” he said.
The allegations against Phillips first emerged in 2000 and again in 2009 and 2014 but although he was interviewed he was not charged.
Two years ago however after some of the victims went to the police a fresh investigation began which led to today’s sentencing.
As well as raping one boy when he was four years old he raped two other boys who were aged five and when one of them was 10 made him sexually abuse a nine-year-old lad.
Phillips, formerly a pizza delivery driver, pleaded guilty to six rape offences, four indecent assaults, three of indecency with a child, one sexual assault and one of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.
The balding defendant sat with his head throughout the hearing and showed no reaction when sentenced. His barrister Stuart Duke said: “There are deeply unpleasant and serious offences for which he is aware he will go to prison for a long time. He recognises it was a cruel betrayal of these children.”
He added that Phillips, who has previous convictions but none for sex offences, had himself been abused as a child. “He says he is damaged and needs help and long term therapy.”