A Lincolnshire man who raped and sexually assaulted children as young as seven over a 23-year period has been jailed for 25 years.
Specialist National Crime Agency investigators operating online identified that Christopher Manning, 38, used an encrypted chat platform to exchange indecent material with others and encouraged them to sexually abuse children.
During online chats, Manning had stated that he was “into” young children, and claimed to have sexually assaulted a four-year-old girl on several occasions, saying he wanted to video and watch the abuse back.
Manning also begged an online contact to send videos of him sexually abusing seven and 11-year-old children.
He was arrested by NCA officers, supported by Lincolnshire Police, at his home in Grantham in February last year.
In the months that followed, the NCA conducted interviews with a number of witnesses and ultimately uncovered that Manning had raped and sexually assaulted young children over the course of many years.
His first victim described how, in 1998 when aged seven, she woke to find him in her bed and raping her. The sexual abuse continued, taking place regularly until she was aged 21.
He also repeatedly raped and sexually abused a vulnerable boy for a decade, between 2004 when the child was seven and 2014, when Manning felt his victim had become too old to gain sexual gratification from.
Manning also sexually assaulted a girl, aged approximately 11, in 2007 and another girl, aged 14, in 2021 while alone with her in his car.
He also sought opportunities to engage with girls under 15 on the internet, asking them to send naked images of themselves via Snapchat.
Examination of a mobile phone belonging to Manning found that eight different VPNs (Virtual private networks) had been installed on it in an effort to conceal his searches for child abuse images.
Investigators recovered a number of searches on his phone for disturbing content. He also had over 100 images of young girls in their underwear stored on there.
He was charged with 21 counts of rape, sexual assault and indecent images of children offences.
Some of the victims gave evidence during Manning’s 11-day trial at Lincoln Crown Court in January this year, following which he was convicted of all counts.
In impact statements read before the court, one victim said: “It has always been in the back of my mind since coming forward last year. Until then it had been buried. Even after the guilty verdicts it still doesn’t feel like it’s over.”
Another said: “After all of the years of abuse it still affects me to this day. I have a fear of unknown men and I get scared when men approach me. I get flashbacks of the abuse and I also have nightmares. I sometimes struggle to communicate with men. I am scared to go out in the real world because you never know who is capable of such crime. I panic going out alone just in case something happens.”
And one more said: “I am very anxious especially when I go out and there’s lots of people… Going to court to re-live it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I wouldn’t be able to go through it, if it wasn’t for my partner, the National Crime Agency and my independent sexual violence adviser. I am glad I’ve done it though, I’m glad I’ve been believed. I now feel stronger and generally happy it’s over.”
Manning was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, with a further four years on licence, today (16 March).
David Levett, Senior Investigating Officer at the NCA, said: “This investigation uncovered that Christopher Manning inflicted the most horrific abuse against children over the course of many years.
“The impact of his criminality is utterly devastating, yet many of his victims bravely gave evidence during the trial and helped to secure his conviction.
“He is a prolific and dangerous sexual offender who poses a grave risk to the public. His sentence reflects the severity and totality of his offending.
“The NCA is dedicated to identifying high harm criminals like Manning and ensuring they are brought to justice.”
When sentencing Manning, HHJ Sjolin Knight described his offending as “a campaign of rape” and said he was a “dangerous offender who posed a high risk to children”.
16 March 2023