Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Rapist John Cronin - one of UK's most dangerous sexual predators - free to stroll streets of Belfast without a care

John Cronin, 41, has committed more than 50 offences in 25 years.
John Cronin, 41, has committed more than 50 offences in 25 years.
John Cronin, pictured in a bookstore in Belfast's Royal Ave.
John Cronin, pictured in a bookstore in Belfast's Royal Ave.
One of Britain's most dangerous sex offenders John Cronin, is free to roam the streets of Belfast.

Cronin, 41, has committed more than 50 offences in 25 years and once dressed as a priest to trick his way into a woman's home to rape her
One of Britain's most dangerous sex offenders John Cronin, is free to roam the streets of Belfast. Cronin, 41, has committed more than 50 offences in 25 years and once dressed as a priest to trick his way into a woman's home to rape her

A man once described as one of the most dangerous sexual predators in Britain is staying in Belfast after being released from prison.

John Cronin (42) has committed more than 50 offences in 25 years, including dressing as a priest to trick his way into a woman's home to rape her.

He was pictured shopping in Belfast city centre yesterday, having been released from Maghaberry Prison last month.

Cronin, labelled by psychiatrists as "one of the most dangerous sexual predators in Britain", is not on the Sex Offenders' Register and can go wherever he wants.

A spokeswoman for the Probation Service said she could not confirm if he is living in Belfast.

Cronin has committed offences since leaving school in Scotland, where he grew up. He sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female former classmate and was jailed for three months, then was jailed for raping a woman after getting into her home disguised as a priest.

After moving to Co Limerick, he was jailed in 2002 for an armed raid on a bank in Waterford, and was jailed again for posing as the mayor of Birmingham at a charity function where he tried to pass off a fake £100,000 cheque.

Cronin was jailed for a year in March for stealing cash from nuns he targeted after pretending he wanted to join the priesthood. Prosecution lawyer Neil Connor said Cronin had been invited on a paid-for retreat at Drumalis House in Co Antrim after "duping" a priest into thinking he had a vocation for the priesthood.

While there, Cronin convinced the nuns that he was a managing director with Scottish Provident and could supply them with computers. He left the weekend retreat in Larne without paying.

However, he returned and was captured on CCTV breaking into the retreat house and taking £50 of petty cash, Mr Connor said.

Cronin was eventually picked up by English police in June last year. He was released from prison last month, his one-year sentence served when time spent on remand was factored in.

Cronin is currently on licence.

Profile

Just after John Cronin left school in Scotland he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old female classmate and served a three-month prison sentence.

But he gained notoriety when jailed for life in 1992 for a sickening sex attack on a Conservative Party worker, 'Judy X' in Edinburgh, where he beat her with a fireplace poker while disguised as a priest.

The sentence was reduced to six years on appeal and he served four. Because the attack took place before the Sex Offenders' Register was introduced, police did not monitor him after his release in 1996.

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