A sex attacker who pleaded guilty to the multiple rape of a girl starting when she was just five years old has been jailed for 12 years.
Burnley Crown Court heard Anthony Gregson, of Springfield Road, North Shore, pleaded guilty to six cases of rape with a child under 13 between 2003 and 2011.
The 21-year-old also pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child and a charge of causing a child to watch a sexual act.
The charges related to two victims.
But Gregson’s crimes were only discovered when the victims’ school teachers became concerned and alerted police.
Det Insp Gareth Willis, the officer in charge of Blackpool’s Awaken team, which investigates child sexual exploitation, said: “It’s a serious case and the sentence reflects that.
“The team are satisfied with the sentence that has been handed down and the length of the sentence gives an indication to the gravity of the offences.
“These offences were committed over a very lengthy time and done when the victim was a very young child. He didn’t admit his guilt until the day of the trial so any form of remorse that he may have shown came extremely late.”
Officers said the victims would often go missing from home and the police would be called to try to find them.
Specially-trained social workers and police officers then spent time building trust with the victims to try to find out who they were disappearing with and why. Prosecutors said the six counts of rape, two counts of sexual activity with a child and the other offence committed by Gregson, mostly took place in Blackpool and in some instances in Manchester.
Sentencing Gregson to 12 years concurrently for each count of rape, three years concurrently for both counts of sexual activity with a child and four years concurrently for incitement charge, Judge Simon Newell asked for the remaining 13 charges of rape and sexual activity with a child to lie on file.
A spokesman from the Awaken team, added: “I really hope this sentence goes some way in giving closure and comfort to these young victims and that they can now go on and try to live their lives.
“We are very pleased with the result.
“This 12 year sentence shows how serious the courts and the police treat these serious offences.
“The initial concerns around this case were raised by the school and this is quite a common occurrence.”