A DETERMINED hunt by Humberside Police has seen a serial rapist jailed for 19-and-a-half years for “despicable” and “heinous” sex crimes.
As Michael Love, 51, begins a lengthy jail term, police officers have described his sentence – one of the longest imposed at Grimsby Crown Court – as a “victory” for his young victims.
Love, formerly of Grimsby, went on the run for three months and was eventually tracked down to be convicted by a jury of 18 sex offences.
The list of crimes included five rapes, one attempted rape, nine indecent assaults and three charges of indecency with a child.
The victims included two girls and one boy, the court heard.
After the hearing, case officer Det Con Dharm Chatha said: “It’s a victory for the victims in this case. They were despicable offences.”
The jailing – which resulted in gasps of amazement from many present at court – marked the end of a long delay in the case.
A jury had been discharged in June last year after more information about offences involving one of the victims emerged.
Love – who has previously lived in Newark – later disappeared and failed to turn up at court.
Humberside Police launched a hunt, which led them to “deepest, darkest Norfolk” – but even then Love tried to run off.
Det Con Chatha said: “The police made extensive inquiries – and if we had not got him, he would still have been on the run.
“We made a lot of inquiries and finally got hold of him.
“He was doing up a boat on the Norfolk Broads.
“When we got to him, he was not there and we traced him to a cottage in another part of the Broads.
“He tried to run from me and Det Sgt Gary Peck. He obviously didn’t want to be caught.”
Love failed to attend court on November 10 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. It was February 27 when he was finally arrested and remanded in custody to face the new trial.
Det Con Chatha added: “Humberside Police will go and hunt people who are involved in serious offences.
“We won’t just turn a blind eye to people wanted for serious offences.”
Love also admitted four separate offences of making indecent photographs of children between June and July last year. Love downloaded 41 images of children from the internet; police found 13 of the images and discovered the titles for the others.
Judge Kate Buckingham branded the offences as “very serious” and told Love – who had already been in custody for 199 days – that only a lengthy prison sentence was appropriate.
He was ordered to register as a sex offender for life and was also given a sexual offences prevention order for life.
After the case, District Crown Prosecutor Andrew Horner said: “This was a detailed and sensitive case which involved a specialist rape lawyer working with the police from the outset.
“This strong partnership allowed the Crown Prosecution Service to detail the full extent of Love’s offending to the court.
“Love committed a catalogue of heinous crimes against his victims. The ordeal of their experience was then further compounded when he pleaded not guilty therefore forcing them to give evidence in court.
“We worked closely with the victims to ensure their voices were heard and they were supported throughout the process.
“The sentence passed by the judge reflects the severity of the crimes committed by Love and we hope the victims are able to take some comfort from the fact that justice has been served.”