Fugitive choirmaster jailed over abuse

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BlacktopImage source, Lancashire Police
Image caption,
John Blacktop was convicted of crimes against five girls in the 1960s and 1970s

A former choirmaster who went on the run after being convicted of sexual abuse has handed himself in to police.

John Blacktop, 81, from Morecambe, was found guilty of crimes committed in the 1960s and 1970s against five girls aged between five and 14.

He was sentenced in his absence to 21 years after failing to attend Bradford Crown Court on 30 March.

Blacktop was spotted on the Fylde coast as he evaded police for nine days before handing himself in on Saturday.


During his trial, he was convicted of one count of rape, one count of attempted rape and 33 counts of indecent assault - spanning a period of almost 20 years - in Lancaster and Stockton-on-Tees.

Some of the abuse occurred at Christ Church, Wyresdale Road in Lancaster, between 1974 and 1977 when he worked as a church organist.

Blacktop, of Marine Road West, was arrested and charged in 2016 after a cold case review by Lancashire Police.

As a result of failing to surrender to court bail, he was sentenced for a further six months to run concurrently with his 21-year jail sentence.

Andy Woodmass, from Lancashire Police, said: "John Blacktop is a predatory sex offender who preyed on young girls to satisfy his own depraved sexual desires.

"What is all the more sinister is how he targeted these youngsters and groomed them before carrying out his abuse, which in some cases was committed over a number of years."

He praised the women for their "strength to come forward".

"They have behaved with dignity throughout this investigation and without their support this prosecution simply would not have been possible."

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