Convicted rapist sexually assaulted girl, 5, on way home from prison

Harriet Brewis
Rothwell assaulted the little girl in front of her horrified mother, according to police: British Transport Police

A convicted rapist has been sent back to jail after he sexually assaulted a five-year-old girl on his way home from prison.

Darren Rothwell, 42, of Wigan, was sentenced to 26 months over the assault, which happened in April.

Rothwell, who police described as “exceptionally dangerous”, had been released from HMP Forest Bank, where he had been serving a sentence for harassment and assault.

At about 9am that day, he boarded a train from Manchester Victoria to Wigan, and approached two females who were travelling with their young children.

The 42-year-old was swearing aggressively, drinking brandy from the bottle and bragging about being released from prison, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

He added that he was on his way to see an ex-partner who had a restraining order against him, and that he’d be back in prison within two days.

After making a series of inappropriate comments to the two women, Rothwell asked one of their daughters, who was just five years old, to take her top off and give it to him.

One of the women challenged him on his behaviour, but he went on to try and kiss them both.

He then told the women to Google his alias "Darren Noonan", which would have revealed news coverage of his 2009 conviction for rape, sexual activity with a child and child abduction.

As the train approached Wigan, Rothwell asked the five-year-old girl for a hug.

He went to pick her up, before sexually assaulting her in view of her horrified mother.

She swiftly intervened and her friend pulled the little girl way, before texting BTP to report the incident.

Rothwell failed to attend his probation appointment later that afternoon, and was quickly identified by officers.

He was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and breaching his restraining order last month.

He appeared at Bolton Crown Court and was sentenced to return to HMP Forest Bank on November 8.

Det Cons Ian Grice said today: “Rothwell clearly had absolutely no desire to rehabilitate himself after prison, but to sexually assault a five-year-old child before he’d even made it home is beyond reprehensible.

“He is clearly an exceptionally dangerous individual and I am relieved, as I’m sure his victim’s family will be, to see him back behind bars.

“I can’t imagine how traumatic this must have been for them and I hope they are now able to begin to put this terrible incident behind them.

“We absolutely will not tolerate any unwanted sexual behaviour on the railway and we will make sure offenders like Rothwell are brought before the court to answer to their heinous crimes.”

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