A MAN raped one teenage girl and molested another in West Cumbria before fleeing the country for 30 years having been charged in connection with the shocking crimes.

Michael Connors, now 48 and also known as John Connors — absconded to southern Ireland three decades ago having been due appear at Carlisle Crown Court in November, 1990. He remained there but was brought to justice after he was arrested for a minor offence and his DNA was shared on an EU-wide database.

Now a married father-of-seven, he had been staying at a travellers’ camp site in the Workington area in 1990. In May that year, while aged 17, he and another male went for a drive with three girls in his yellow van.

After one female got out, Connors drove out to the countryside and the other two girls — both aged 15 — were prevented from leaving. He raped one girl in the back of his vehicle. “She kept shouting at him to get off but he wouldn’t,” said prosecutor Peter Warne.

Under a false pretence, Connors then took the other girl to a field where he sexually assaulted her. Visually shaken after they were transported back to the Workington area, the tearful girls told others what had happened.

Connors’s DNA was recovered from the rape victim’s clothing and he was picked out in an identification parade but initially protested his innocence.

He finally admitted rape and indecent assault charges in court today (WED).

In a recently-provided victim impact statement, the woman he had raped as a child said the incident had a “dramatic impact” on her life.

“When she was informed the police were closing in, as she puts it, on the defendant, she was happy that he could answer for what he had done,” said Mr Warne. “On the other hand it brought back every feeling she had spent 30 years trying to suppress.”

Of the indecent assault victim, the prosecutor added: “She had nightmares and was in a right mess.”

Kim Whittlestone, defending, spoke of Connors’ troubled upbringing, adding: “In his words, he is very, very sorry to the females involved in this case.”

Handing Connors a four-year jail term, Recorder Andrew Nuttall told him: “For 30 years, the victims in this court have had no justice at all. Today, hopefully, they will see that justice is finally done.”

The judge added: “The effect your actions have had on these two girls as they were, and two women as they are now is absolutely enormous. That dreadful night will remain lodged in their memories for ever. It is quite clear they live with what you did to them every day.”

Connors must abide by the strict sex offender notification requirements indefinitely.