A serial fraudster who sparked a nationwide manhunt when he abducted a 14-year-old Doncaster girl last June was yesterday jailed for six years by a judge at Sheffield Crown Court.
John Bush, aged 35, who lived on a caravan site at Moss Road, Askern, took the teenager to London before they were caught after five days on the run.
He had collected the girl, who cannot be named, from her school and drove her first to Leicestershire where he conned a hotel boss into letting them have rooms for the night, pretending she was his daughter. Then they caught trains to London where he was spotted by a transport policeman.
Detectives found scientific evidence they had sexual activity before they went on the run. Bush was said to have been ‘emotionally confused’ when the relationship became illicit.
Bush, who has previous fraud offences going back to 1997, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a child, child abduction, and making off without payment for the hotel.
Judge Paul Watson QC said her disappearance ‘caused untold distress and anxiety’ for her relatives and sexual activity was ‘very significant’ motivation for his conduct.
Prosecutor Sarah Wright said Bush had befriended the girl’s mother and, when social services became concerned about his involvement with her daughter, she was placed in foster care.
Over three days before they ran away together, the defendant and the girl exchanged 250 texts.
Miss Wright said the media had ‘greatly assisted’ in publicising the disappearance. In the end PC Mark Hines, walking near Euston station in London, saw them and became suspicious of a man and a girl with their hoods up on a nice day.
Nicholas De La Poer, defending, said Bush became ‘completely caught up in an emotionally charged atmosphere’.