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A man who used dating apps to sexually exploit seven teenage girls has been found guilty following a trial.
His brother also pleaded guilty to joining him on two occasions in hotel rooms to sexually exploit the vulnerable victims.
John Bancroft, 68, of Chestnut Avenue, Buckhurst Hill, was found guilty on Monday, December 13 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 following a seven-week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
A month before the trial, Bancroft 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, Bancroft 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, Graham Manicom, 62, of Hyde Mead, Waltham Abbey, pleaded guilty to two counts of paying for the sexual services of a child.
Bancroft used dating apps such as MyLol to make fake accounts and offer ‘sugar daddy’ arrangements with teenage girls aged between 13 and 18-years-old from 2016 to 2017.
He specifically targeted vulnerable girls in order to manipulate them. He 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.
On two occasions his brother, Manicom, joined him in meeting the victim’s in a hotel room for group sex.
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 Sergeant Kelly Ryan from the Modern Slavery and Child Exploitation team said: “Bancroft and Manicom are sick individuals who targeted vulnerable girls for their own twisted gratification.
“They are old enough to be the victims’ grandfathers and their manipulative actions have had a devastating impact for the girls they abused.
“The brothers had a significant power imbalance over the victims and they were extremely calculating in who they targeted and sought girls who were distant from their families, had financial worries or who had been previously abused.
“The seven victims who assisted police throughout this lengthy investigation have been extremely strong and brave throughout the trial and I sincerely hope this result will start to bring them some closure. I also applaud the sister of one victim who absolutely did the right thing by contacting us to share her concerns. This launched the investigation and uncovered the scale of Bancroft’s offending.
“I encourage anyone who has had a similar experience to that of the victims to come forward and report it to police. We will support you and take all reports seriously.”
Bancroft and Manicom were remanded into custody and will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on February 14, 2022.
To read more about child sexual exploitation and the signs to spot, visit the advice page on the Met’s website: https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/caa/child-abuse/child-sexual-exploitation/