May 2018

Bolton minister jailed for 18 years after raping teenager

A man who styled himself as a religious leader stopped repeatedly raping a teenage girl after she told him she had dreamed God would harm him if he continued.

Stephen Ojo, who claimed to be a Christian pastor, groomed and targeted the 14-year-old girl.

Following a six-day trial, a jury unanimously found him guilty of five counts of rape and five counts of sexual activity with a child.

Sentencing 59-year-old Ojo to an extended sentence of 18 years in prison with a further four years on licence, Judge Timothy Stead told him: “You are a predatory offender.

“You have not shown yourself to be properly remorseful for what you have done.”

In a statement, read out by the girl’s mother, she described Ojo as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” who had “ripped away” innocence.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Ojo befriended the girl’s family and the abuse began in 2014 when he asked her for hugs and then attempted to kiss her.

David Bentley, prosecuting, said the girl attempted to pull away from him but he told her, “It’s okay” and “Don’t tell anyone about this”.

On the next occasion the teenager was attempting to retrieve her Bible from a table when he, again, asked for a hug, but then kissed her and forced his tongue into her mouth.

The abuse progressed and escalated.

“He would seek her out in order to have inappropriate physical contact with her,” said Mr Bentley.

Within a year Ojo was raping the girl on a weekly basis in, what the prosecution described as, “a campaign of rape”.

“This occurred whenever the opportunity arose,” said Mr Bentley. “At times the defendant would contact her via mobile phone instructing her …. so he could see her and, ultimately, abuse her.”

On one occasion Ojo raped her after getting her to read him a verse from the Bible and, at other times, he would abuse her after collecting her from school in his car.

“The defendant would drive her to a secluded and dark location off the main road,” said Mr Bentley.

“Here he would park up and climb into the back of the car. He would undress her and rape her.”

The rape campaign culminated in an incident in 2016 when he phoned the girl to come to him. When she arrived he raped her and then, the next day, told her to delete her call log so his call to her did not show up.

“Following this rape she avoided contact with the defendant as best she could,” said Mr Bentley.

“On one occasion, she told him about a dream she had about God, who said harm would come to the defendant if he continued to do what he had been doing to her.”

“The defendant appeared to smirk but she repeated this a number of occasions to keep the defendant away from her.

“Thereafter, she tried to have as little contact with him as possible.”

Ojo then turned attention to another, younger, girl, patting her on the bottom when he encountered her before starting to kiss her.

Following one incident the girl asked a male friend for an opinion about what was happening between her and Ojo and, as a result, her school became aware of the abuse.

Investigations led to police discovering the crimes Ojo had committed against the older girl.

When arrested Ojo, a Dutch passport holder, denied all allegations.

He stood in the dock with his hands over his face as he was sentenced by Judge Stead.

The judge told him: “You present yourself as being a lay minister. You have said that you are a pastor and you have taken on religious duties with the community.

“I have not seen any firm evidence that that is your official position or qualification.

“Whether you are masquerading as a minister or whether it is the truth, using the greatest possible hypocrisy, you have used that as a cloak.

“You presented yourself as a religious man who could commit to helping them.”

He added: “For a period of months, running into years, you carefully groomed your victims intending to escalate your offending.

“It is clear there was careful planning by you of these offences. They didn’t simply arise out of the lust of the moment.

“What you have done could not possibly do anything but to cause serious harm to them (the victims) psychologically.”

Judge Stead added that he was imposing an extended sentence because Ojo, of Manchester Road, Blackrod, is dangerous and poses a significant risk of harm to the public.