Jailed: 'Sick and twisted' man exploited vulnerable girls

A CCTV image of John Bancroft at a hotel with two victims

A CCTV image of John Bancroft at an unnamed hotel with two victims - Credit: Met Police

A man who "targeted vulnerable girls" he met using dating apps has been jailed.

John Bancroft, 68, of Chestnut Avenue, Buckhurst Hill, used apps such as MyLol to make fake accounts and offer “sugar daddy” arrangements with girls aged 13 to 18 in 2016 and 2017.

Police say he sexually exploited seven teenage girls.

John Bancroft, 68, of Chestnut Avenue, Buckhurst Hill was jailed for 25 years

John Bancroft, 68, of Chestnut Avenue, Buckhurst Hill was jailed for 25 years - Credit: Met Police

His brother - Graham Manicom, 62, of Hyde Mead, Waltham Abbey - joined him in hotel rooms to sexually exploit the girls on two occasions and was also jailed.

They were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Monday (February 21) with Bancroft locked up for 25 years and Manicom given four years.

Police say the lengthy sentence for Bancroft was due to the court’s assessment that he poses a significant risk of serious harm to the public.

Det Supt Andy Furphy, the Met’s lead 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.

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"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."

The court heard Bancroft would tell the victims he was much younger than his actual age and offer to pay them, making them believe it was a mutual agreement.

He offered to be their "mentor, teacher, father, provider", Scotland Yard said, but in fact he was grooming them.

The court heard how when Bancroft received a reply from a victim, he quickly moved the conversation to WhatsApp, sending up to 100 messages a day. Some of the victims later met Bancroft.

CCTV of brothers John Bancroft and Graham Manicom at a hotel in 2017

CCTV of brothers John Bancroft and Graham Manicom at a hotel in 2017 - Credit: Met Police

The Met said the brothers came to the attention of police when one victim's sisters grew suspicious of someone she was speaking to online and reported it.

This triggered a long and complex investigation, with Bancroft charged in January 2020.

Following a seven-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Bancroft was found guilty on December 13 last year 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.

Before the trial, 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.

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.

Graham Manicom, 62, of Hyde Mead, Waltham Abbey was jailed for four years

Graham Manicom, 62, of Hyde Mead, Waltham Abbey was jailed for four years - Credit: Met Police

Manicom pleaded guilty to two counts of paying for the sexual services of a child in the third week of the trial.

Det Supt Andy Furphy said: “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 - Det Sgt Kelly Ryan and Det Con Betsy Davey - who worked closely alongside them and were relentless in their efforts to put these dangerous and sick men behind bars.

"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," he added.

The Lucy Faithful Foundation supports children and families that have been affected by sexual abuse.

The charity can be contacted here: www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk/