'Dangerous and predatory' man who raped girl jailed

Craig KnightImage source, Police handout
Image caption,
Police said Craig Knight's victim had shown "extraordinary courage" in testifying against him

A "dangerous and predatory" man who groomed a girl and raped her on several occasions has been jailed for 21 years.

Lancashire Police said Craig Knight, 31 and of Blackpool, was found by officers with the 16-year-old in 2017.

She told police at the time he was her boyfriend, but later said he had sexually abused her for several years.

At Preston Crown Court, he was found guilty of 21 counts, including rape of a child under 13, sexual activity with a child and intimidation of a witness.

'Threats of violence'

A police spokesman said the abuse was discovered after officers were called to an address in Blackpool in June 2017.

He said Knight was arrested, but after he was bailed, he attacked the car of one of the girl's male friends, filing the exhaust with expanding foam and scratching the bodywork.

The next day, he returned to the area in a hire vehicle with a gas-powered pistol, a bottle containing petrol, fireproof gloves and a knife, but was stopped by the boy and his father and then rearrested.

Knight was also convicted of possession of a firearm, attempted arson and theft.

He was made the subject of a lifetime sexual harm prevention order and ordered to put on the sex offenders register for life.

Speaking after the hearing, Det Con Paul Moon said Knight took advantage of his victim's vulnerability and "when he realised he was losing control of his victim, used threats of violence and weapons to intimidate her".

He added that the girl "has had her teenage years taken from her by this dangerous and predatory individual".

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