Convicted Wigan rapist sexually assaulted girl, 5, on way home from prison

A convicted rapist from Wigan who sexually assaulted a 5-year-old girl on his way home from prison has been sentenced.


Darren Rothwell, 42, and of Scholes, Wigan, pleaded guilty to sexual assault at Bolton Crown Court on 7th October.

Darren Rothwell

Darren Rothwell

On Friday 8th November, a Judge sentenced him to 26 months in prison.

On 18th April 2019, Rothwell was released from HMP Forest Bank, where he had been serving a sentence for harassment and assault.

At around 9am, he made his way to Manchester Victoria and boarded a train to Wigan where he approached two female friends who were travelling with their young children.

They felt understandably intimated by Rothwell who was swearing aggressively, drinking brandy from the bottle, and bragging about being released from prison.

He added that he was on his way to see an ex-partner who had a restraining order against him, and that he’d be back in prison within two days.

After making a series of uncomfortable comments to the two women, Rothwell asked the 5-year-old girl, one of their daughters, to take her top off and give it to him.

One of the women challenged him on his behaviour, but he went on to try and kiss them both. He was heard to tell the women to Google his alius ‘Darren Noonan’, where they would have found online news coverage of his 2009 conviction for rape, sexual activity with a child and child abduction.

As the train approached Wigan, Rothwell asked the 5-year-old girl for a hug. He went to pick her up, before sexually assaulting her in view of her horrified mum.

The girl’s mum intervened, and her friend pulled her daughter away, before using BTP’s discreet text service 61016 to report the incident.

Rothwell failed to attend his probation appointment later than afternoon, and was quickly identified by officers.

On 20th April, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and breaching his restraining order. He appeared at court on 22nd April charged with the offences and was returned back to HMP Forest Bank.

Detective Constable Ian Grice said: “Rothwell clearly had absolutely no desire to rehabilitate himself after prison, but to sexually assault a 5-year-old child before he’d even made it home is beyond reprehensible.

“He is clearly an exceptionally dangerous individual and I am relieved, as I’m sure his victim’s family will be, to see him back behind bars.

“I can’t imagine how traumatic this must have been for them and I hope they are now able to begin to put this terrible incident behind them.

“We absolutely will not tolerate any unwanted sexual behaviour on the railway and we will make sure offenders like Rothwell are brought before the court to answer to their heinous crimes.”

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Rothwell’s abhorrent behaviour and sexual assault on a vulnerable child in front of her mother was absolutely appalling.

“The bravery of everyone who stood up to Rothwell during this repulsive incident must be commended. Hopefully, the young girl will receive the support she needs to work through her trauma, and families around the region feel some reassurance that an individual as dangerous as Rothwell has been taken off the streets.”

Children can contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 1111. Adults concerned about a child’s welfare can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000.