A predatory sex offender, who committed numerous crimes against children and vulnerable adults spanning over three decades, has been sentenced to jail following an investigation by specialist safeguarding officers in Leeds.

Craig Meredith, 50, residing on Middleton Road, Morley, was found guilty of 38 offences after a trial at Leeds Crown Court. His convictions include rape, sexual assault by penetration, sexual activity in the presence of a child, and sexual touching.

The crimes occurred between 1987, when Meredith was 14 years old, and 2019 when he raped a victim, disguising himself as a paranormal entity that had supposedly possessed her. He manipulated vulnerable young children and adults with learning disabilities, causing them significant trauma and long-term mental health issues.

Today, he was sentenced to 33 years, with 30 years in custody and a three-year extended licence.

Detective Inspector Vikki Daniel-Thomas, of Leeds District Safeguarding, said: “The level of harm that Meredith has caused to such a large number of victims over a very long period of time is truly appalling.

“He is clearly someone of a predatory nature who presents a very significant danger to children and vulnerable adults, and we hope it will give the victims some reassurance to know he has finally had to answer for his actions and has received a significant term of imprisonment.

“This was a complex and challenging investigation where the diligent work of the officers in the case, Detective Constable Julie Arnott and Detective Constable Paul Ashton, has resulted in this positive outcome for the victims.

“Serious sexual offending such as this will always attract the highest level of investigation by specialist safeguarding officers to ensure that offenders like Meredith are brought to justice.

“We hope the successful conclusion of this case will help to give victims of other similar offences to confidence to come forward.”