April 2017

Fugitive child rapist begins 21-year jail sentence

A paedophile former choirmaster who fled during his trial and spent nine days on the run from police is finally starting a 21-year jail sentence.

John Gilbert Blacktop, 81, of Morecambe, Lancashire, sexually abused five girls aged between five and 14 during the 1960s and 1970s in Lancaster and Stockton-on-Tees in Cleveland.

He disappeared during his trial Bradford Crown Court, where he was found guilty of more than 30 attacks on children and sentenced in his absence last month.

Blacktop was also a church organist at Christ Church, Wyresdale Road in Lancaster, where some of the abuse occurred between 1974 and 1977.

He was arrested and charged in 2016 after a cold case review by Lancashire Police.

He was convicted of 33 counts of indecent assault, one count of rape and one count of attempted rape.

After failing to attend court, Blacktop, of Marine Road West, was reportedly sighted in Blackpool and Cleveleys and eventually handed himself in at Blackpool Police Station on April 8.

He received a six-month jail term for failing to surrender, which will run concurrently to his 21-year sentence for the sexual offences.

March 2017

Police appeal for help in finding convicted child rapist who has gone on the run after being given bail

A fugitive child rapist, aged 81, has been sighted in Manchester city centre.

John Gilbert Blacktop, a former choirmaster and church organist, skipped court and was sentenced in his absence to 21 years behind bars for a string of sex crimes, including raping five young girls.

Now he’s been spotted on Oxford Road in the city center – and police are appealing for help from the public in Manchester to catch him.

Blacktop was on trial at Bradford Crown Court but failed to turn up at an afternoon hearing last Wednesday.

Lancashire Police said he was on bail during the trial and had denied 36 separate sex offences – 33 counts of indecent assault, two counts of rape and a single count of attempted rape.

He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to the 21-year prison term in his absence.

Police confirmed Blacktop is now classed as a wanted man and have released his photograph as part of a public appeal for information.

Blacktop’s offending took place in Lancaster and Stockton-on-Tees in the 1960s and 70s, Lancashire Police said. The force said his victims were five young girls who were aged between five and 14 at the time.

It’s understood that now adults, they gave evidence against him at the trial, reliving their horrific experiences at his hands all over again.

Blacktop, of Marine Road West, Morecambe, was sighted walking with a large green suitcase on Oxford Road at 11am on Friday morning.

No further details of his movements have been revealed, but it’s understood that investigating officers are checking CCTV cameras and liaising with Greater Manchester Police detectives.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Blacktop had been staying in Nottingham during the trial and was last seen at Bradford Crown Court at about 2pm on Wednesday

“He has since been seen in the Oxford Road area of Manchester at around 11am on Friday. He was described as wearing a dark green blazer and burgundy shirt and was carrying a large green suitcase.”

Inspector Phil Jones added: “While Mr Blacktop is wanted for failing to appear at court, we are also concerned for his welfare and I would appeal to anyone who sees him, or knows where he may be, to get in touch. I would also appeal to Mr Blacktop himself to contact us if he sees this appeal.”