May 2023

Paedophile jailed for rape and sexual assault of two girls ‘too young to understand’

A rapist has been jailed for a minimum of 14 years after sexually assaulting two young girls.

Paedophile Michael Hopwood, 27, from Openshaw abused two girls under the age of 12, with one victim said to be too young to understand what rape was.

The beast had initially denied three counts of rape, two counts of attempted rape, four charges of sexual assault and one charge of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child but a jury at Manchester Crown Court convicted him

One girl, said to be too young to understand what had happened, was visibly ‘upset’ in school as friends became concerned before she reported the incident to an adult and police were called, the court heard.

Peter Cadwallader, prosecuting, revealed to the court how the victim described to officers the manner in which Hopwood climbed on top of her in an incident that the jury concluded amounted to oral rape.

A second victim was then interviewed by police who told graphic detail about how he molested her

The abuse was said to have begun during the summer but the victim hadn’t spoken to anyone about the assault due to fear. When married father Hopwood was arrested by police, he denied all allegations against him.

The court heard that those taking care of the two girls were glad to learn that he would be locked away for some time. Both of the victims are entitled to lifelong anonymity in press reports of their case and have both said to have been ‘profoundly’ affected by the abuse.

One girl was said to be bubbly and confident but ‘isn’t like that now’, the court heard. The other was described as a sweet girl whose attitude ‘has changed’ and has become ‘very emotional’ every time she did anything wrong.

A family member described Hopwood, who had no previous convictions or cautions, as a ‘monster’.

She told the judge: “If it was up to me, I would lock him up and throw away the key. I believe people like him should be locked away forever.”

Judge Hilary Manley said the younger victim had ‘found the courage’ to tell her school friends. She had been groomed by Hopwood who then raped her, she said.

The judge went on to say that the older girl had been ‘groomed and debased’ by Hopwood who then ‘bribed her with sweets’. “You destroyed her innocence,” said Judge Manley.

Hopwood was jailed for 20 years with an extended licence period of eight years but will be eligible for parole after 14 years.

If he is released, he will be on licence for a further 14 years.