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Man guilty of sexual assault on girl, 16, in Barking after dodging court

Joao Francisco will be sentenced next month

A man who sexually abused a 16-year-old girl in Barking and then went into hiding from police after being charged has been found guilty in court.

Joao Francisco, 44, of no fixed address was convicted of one count of sexual activity with a child at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday.

He is due to be sentenced in January 2021.

His crimes were first reported to police in October 2017 when the girl came forward to police.

Following an investigation, he was charged in June 2019 but failed to appear in court.

Police then launched a public appeal to locate him, with Time 107.5FM twice sharing news articles as part of efforts to locate him.

Members of the public passed information to police and Francisco eventually handed himself in to police in January 2020.

Detective Sergeant Jasmine Abbey, East Area Command Unit, said: “I am glad that Francisco has been convicted and I hope it provides some comfort to the young victim, who has shown a lot of strength throughout the process.

“I really do want to encourage anyone who has suffered sexual abuse to report it. They will speak with specially trained officers who are able to help them and investigate what happened. Please don’t suffer alone, we are here to help you.

“A media appeal resulted in a number of invaluable calls from members of the public, who were intent on helping us catch Francisco. I would like to thank every single one of those people who contacted us. It is imperative that police and the public work together to catch offenders and this is a prime example of how well that process can work.”

For more on this story, and the latest on our other local and national news, listen to Time 107.5FM

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