Serial rapist who abused girls and women over more than 40 years died after catching Covid in jail

The sex offender died from pneumonia after catching Covid while serving a 25-year jail sentence

Dennis SmalleyDennis Smalley
Dennis Smalley

A convicted rapist who preyed on women and girls for more than 40 years died after catching Covid in jail.

Dennis Smalley, 70, was locked up for 25 years in 2016, for his appalling crimes.

He died on 16 March while serving his sentence at the high-security prison HMP Wakefield.

Smalley had been convicted of raping seven teenagers and women, and sexually abusing four other girls.

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.

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.”

Dennis SmalleyDennis Smalley
Dennis Smalley

‘I no longer have to live in fear that someday he will be out’

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.”

HMP WakefieldHMP Wakefield
HMP Wakefield

‘One of the most despicable human beings I have encountered’

Smalley’s sickening catalogue of abuse started in 1971 and continued for nearly 45 years, with the last offence recorded against him in June 2015.

The quarter century term handed down him five years ago is believed to be the longest sentence ever imposed on a sex offender in the borough of Wigan - after police investigated 43 rapes and sex assaults against 11 women and girls.

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 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.”

At Smalley’s trial, the court heard one of his young victims became pregnant, and all his victims had been left psychologically scarred by his predatory behaviour.

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

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.

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