A man who used dating apps to sexually exploit seven teenage girls has been jailed for 25 years.
His brother, who joined him on two occasions in hotel rooms to sexually exploit the vulnerable victims, was jailed for four years.
Two detectives who worked on the case, Detective Sergeant Kelly Ryan and Detective Constable Betsy Davey, received a Judge’s commendation for their thorough investigation.
John Bancroft, 68, of Chestnut Avenue, Buckhurst Hill, Essex used dating apps such as MyLol to make fake accounts and offer ‘sugar daddy’ arrangements with teenage girls aged between 13 and 18 from 2016 to 2017. He specifically targeted vulnerable girls in order to manipulate them.
His brother, Graham Manicom 62 of Hyde Mead, Waltham Abbey, Essex joined him in meeting the victims in a hotel room for sex on two occasions.
They were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday, 21 February. The extended sentence imposed on Bancroft was due to the court’s assessment that he poses a significant risk of serious harm to the public.
On Monday, 13 December, Bancroft was found guilty of four counts of rape, meeting a child following sexual grooming, paying for the sexual services of a child, attempting, causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child and attempting sexual communication with a child. The verdicts followed a seven-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Before the trial began, he pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm against a child during sexual activity and 14 counts of taking, possessing and distributing indecent images of children before the trial began.
In the second week of the trial, he pleaded guilty to a further 15 offences including paying for the sexual services of a child, causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child and attempted sexual communication with a child.
In the third week of the trial, his brother Manicom pleaded guilty to two counts of paying for the sexual services of a child.
Bancroft would tell the victims he was much younger than his actual age and offer to pay them to participate in sexual acts with him, making them believe it was a mutual agreement. He offered to be their mentor, teacher, father, provider and lover but in fact he was satisfying his own twisted demands.
The court heard how when Bancroft did receive a reply from a victim he swiftly moved the conversation to WhatsApp, sending up to 100 messages a day. Some of the victim’s subsequently met Bancroft and in return for money, gifts or food they were expected to pander to his sexual demands which included group sex and sado-masochistic acts.
He would take the victims to various hotels around the country, sometimes staying overnight. He would also drive them to remote areas for sex or take them to his home address.
Bancroft even took indecent images of the girls and shared them on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. He’d send explicit photos of himself and persuaded the victims to do the same in return.
The brothers came to the attention of police when one of the victim’s sisters grew suspicious of someone she was speaking to online and reported it. This launched a long and complex investigation by the Met’s Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation team.
Bancroft was charged in January 2020. He was placed on the sex offenders register in September of this year after pleading guilty to possessing indecent images of children.
Detective Superintendent Andy Furphy, the Met’s lead responsible officer for exploitation, said: “Bancroft and Manicom pose a serious risk to vulnerable women and girls and I am glad they will be behind bars for a significant period of time. I am pleased the severity of Bancroft’s offending was taken into consideration when he was given an extended sentence. He is a sick and twisted man just like his brother.
“The pair caused immeasurable harm to the victims and they preyed on their vulnerabilities in a sinister and calculating manner.
“I would like to commend the seven victims for coming forward and for their bravery throughout the investigation and subsequent trial.
“I also commend the detectives who worked closely alongside them and were relentless in their efforts to put these dangerous and sick men behind bars. Their work was recognised with a personal acknowledgement from the judge.
“I encourage anyone who has had a similar experience to that of these victims to come forward and report it to police. We will support you and take all reports seriously.”