Wigan serial rapist was killed by Covid, report reveals

One of Wigan’s vilest ever sex offenders did die from pneumonia while serving a 25-year jail sentence, a report has confirmed.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 4:06 pm

Back in March a victim of serial rapist Dennis Smalley said that the 70-year-old’s demise was “karma” and she spoke of her relief at no longer dreading the day when he might be released.

The quarter century term handed down him five years ago is believed to be the longest sentence ever imposed on a borough sex offender - after police investigated 43 rapes and sex assaults against 11 women and girls over a period covering more than four decades.

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Dennis Smalley

At the time of his trial, the officer who investigated the case, Det Con Claire Hughes, said Smalley was “one of the most despicable human beings I have ever encountered” and a “sickening human being who inflicted nothing but misery on those he encountered.”

Smalley, formerly of Rutland Road, Hindley, was convicted by a Liverpool Crown Court jury and judge Anil Murray told him at the sentencing hearing: “You are a violent and controlling bully.

“For over 40 years you have sexually abused women for your own gratification.”

A report published this week by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman, which carries on independent investigations into complaints and deaths in custody, confirmed rumours at the time of his death that Smalley had been killed by Covid pneumonia on March 16 while a prisoner at high-security HMP Wakefield.

The high securirty Wakefield Prison

It also shows that Smalley had not left Wakefield in the weeks before he fell ill and "it appears, therefore, that he caught Covid-19 in prison."

Investigators concluded that the jail had "appropriate policies and procedures in place and had taken reasonable steps to manage the risk to prisoners, including Smalley, of being infected."

One of Smalley's victims earlier this year told how the news that he only had days to live after contracting coronavirus and then that he had succumbed to it was broken to her and other victims by probation officers.

She said: “Karma is real and the relief is now that I no longer have to live in fear that someday he will be out.

“I did think that the sentence he was given was tough enough though - it reflected the severity of his actions. But I did worry about the possibility of his being eventually being released at some time in the future.

“All of what happened will live with me forever and we all had to go to court to testify which made things all the harder.

“This had a detrimental affect on my mental health.”

At Smalley’s trial, the court heard that he stole the virginity of two of his young victims, getting one of them pregnant, and all his victims, some abused after grooming, had been left psychologically scarred by his predatory behaviour.

Vanessa Thomson, prosecuting, said all the offences took place at locations in Hindley including a cemetery, by a fishing pond and in a caravan.

His years of depravity came to light last year when his final victim, a 15-year-old girl, told police that he had sexually abused her.

“Her disclosure set in train an investigation which opened a Pandora’s Box regarding the defendant’s activities, ” said Ms Thomson.

Smalley went missing from his home and in the meantime police inquiries led to the other victims being discovered.

The court heard that Smalley’s vile crimes included raping a 14-year-old girl in a cemetery in his car and persuading one of his victims to engage in an act of gross indecency by telling her he had bought her a pie maker.

She refused but he subjected her to the ordeal anyway.

The hearing was told that the teenager whom he raped in his car at the cemetery would be given money by Smalley to fuel her gambling and glue addictions in exchange for sex.

Smalley video-recorded himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl and the footage was later found hidden in a jukebox he that he kept in his living room. He used to give her drugs and alcohol, said Miss Thomson.

After a month-long trial a jury convicted him of a total of 43 sex offences involving rape, indecent assault, buggery, indecency with a child and one offence of assault causing actual bodily harm.

Miss Thompson read impact statements from the victims, all of which spoke of their mental and physical suffering.

Several spoke of now having intimacy, trust and relationship difficulties but expressed hopes that the case meant they could now get on with the rest of their life.

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