A 35-year-old man who raped a child and lied to police about what happened has been jailed.

Wayne Leigh, of Somerset Terrace, Bedminster, appeared at Bristol Crown Court today (Monday, May 22) after a jury found him guilty of raping a child under 16 years old and perverting the course of justice.

He was jailed for a total of seven years and six months.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order has also been imposed and Leigh has been ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

The court heard how, between January and February last year, the female teenage victim was raped in a property in Bristol.

Leigh was arrested for the offences in April 2022 but failed to answer his bail in July and went on the run.

Following searches, Avon and Somerset police found him nine days later living in a tent in a woodland area and was later charged and remanded to face trial in March this year.

Gazette Series: Wayne Leigh aged 35 has been jailed for seven years and six months Wayne Leigh aged 35 has been jailed for seven years and six months (Image: Avon and Somerset Police)

Detective Sergeant Lucy Forde said: "During enquiries, Leigh lied to officers about a piece of clothing of his that was used to link him to the crime and manipulated those around him to lie about his whereabouts.

“Leigh was brought to justice by the Operation Topaz Child Exploitation Team, who also supported the victim throughout the investigation.

“We would like to commend the strength and bravery of the victim in coming forward. 

"In her personal statement, the victim described how frightened she was of Leigh. He was much older than her and she thought he was not someone who would harm her.

"A dangerous offender is now behind bars because of the victim's courage in supporting the investigation.

"Leigh deliberately targets vulnerable children and adults and manipulates them for his own purpose. Hopefully, today's sentence will give people the courage to come forward and to gain justice."

If you are a victim of sexual assault or rape, recent or non-recent, you can self-refer to The Bridge, a Sexual Assault Referral Centre available 24/7, 365 days a year.

Visit their website at www.thebridgecanhelp.org.uk or call 0117 342 6999.