Rotherham man jailed for sexually abusing women and girls

Matthew Wood will spend 14 years in prison and a further eight on licence.  Pic: South Yorkshire Police.
Matthew Wood will spend 14 years in prison and a further eight on licence. Pic: South Yorkshire Police.

A 24-year-old man will spend 14 years in prison for sexually abusing five women and girls, including some who had disabilities, in South Yorkshire.

Matthew Wood was sentenced yesterday (October 13) at Manchester Crown Court having earlier pleaded guilty to 15 offences against five victims.

Wood, of Buckleigh Road, Wath, Rotherham admitted seven counts of rape, four counts of sexual activity with a child, three counts of sexual assault and one count of common assault.

He also admitted possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

The charges relate to five women and girls from Doncaster and Rotherham who were aged between 15 and 24-years-old when the offences took place.

Wood will serve 14 years in custody with an extended eight years on licence, after he was deemed by the judge to be a dangerous sex offender.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, investigating officer Detective Constable Richard Howe from Rotherham said: “Wood preyed on vulnerable teenage girls and women for his own sexual gratification, a truly despicable crime.

“A number of his victims suffer from disabilities as well, making his exploitation of them even more appalling and cruel.

“I’m pleased he entered guilty pleas and spared the victims the further distressing experience of having to attend a trial to give evidence, but this does not lessen the significant impact this abuse has had on his victims’ lives.”

The police investigation into Wood’s offences began in 2015, when South Yorkshire Police was passed information that suggested he had been accessing indecent images of children.

As the inquiry progressed, it became clear that Wood had sexually abused a number of people and his victims were identified and traced. Wood was charged with multiple offences in March 2016.

Det Cons Howe said: “I hope that the sentence passed down today is of some comfort to them (Wood’s victims), knowing he is behind bars where he can cause no further harm.

“I want to thank the victims for coming forward to report this crime to police and for their courage throughout our investigation.”

In a statement, Rotherham Council leader Chris Read added: “It is great news that this man is now behind bars where he can no longer inflict harm and misery as has done already done on his many victims.

“Both police and social care staff worked closely with the victims to help secure this conviction. Once again it shows the increasing strength and effectiveness of our partnership working across Rotherham in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse.

“The fact he pleaded guilty also spared the victims in this case from having to endure a high profile trial. I hope they take some comfort from the sentence today.”