Manhunt for on-the-run child rapist
Police are hunting for a child rapist with links to North Wales.
Greater Manchester Police have urged the public to help them find Stephen Pennington, 30, from the Wigan area, who is wanted for failing to comply with the notification requirements of the sex offenders register.
He was jailed in 2009 after being found guilty of raping a girl 12 but has since been released from prison.
Pennington has links to Wigan, Lancashire and North Wales.
Anybody with information about Stephen Pennington’s whereabouts should contact police on 0161 856 3621, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.
Child rapist used internet dating site to contact mothers
A CONVICTED child rapist used a false name to gain the trust of a mum he met on a dating website before sleeping under the same roof as her eight-year-old daughter.
Stephen Pennington breached the terms of the Sex Offenders’ Register by staying over at the Wigan woman’s home 15 times between January 1 and March 31 this year.
Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard how Pennington, 25, had been ordered to sign the register for life after he was jailed for three years for raping a 12-year-old girl back in 2009.
But Katie Beattie, prosecuting, told how, after his release, Pennington used the false name Stephen Kayser on a dating website – and the name Josh Stevenson on Facebook – before starting a relationship with the woman.
She only found out about Pennington’s rape conviction when a friend urged her to conduct an internet search under his real name.
She told police: “I felt all the colour drain from me. I was totally disgusted that I had allowed him access to my daughter and it made me wonder if anything had happened to her.
“If I had known about his conviction there wouldn’t have even been a relationship.”
The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, even produced photographic evidence showing Pennington in the same room as her daughter and told police she had since suffered from anxiety.
She also said she was now pregnant with the defendant’s child – a claim queried by Pennington’s defence solicitor, Mark Ferguson.
Mr Ferguson said his client deserved credit for his guilty pleas, despite them being entered on the day he was due to stand trial.
He also said it was “unrealistic” to expect Pennington, of Beech Hill Lane, Beech Hill, to never enter into an intimate relationship again but accepted that his client had been “stupid and reckless”.
He added that the rape conviction was for statutory rape, arguing “it wasn’t a consent issue, it was an age issue.”
Magistrates told Pennington, who was supported in court by his new girlfriend and had already spent two months behind bars on remand, that they took the case “very seriously” and that the custody threshold had been passed.
But they opted to suspend his six-month jail sentence for a year and ordered him to undergo 12 months of probation service supervision.
Pennington was also ordered to pay £400 compensation to the victim.