A child rapist branded a danger to youngsters has been jailed for 19 years.
Gary Higgins, of Franklands Drive, Ribbleton, was convicted of a catalogue of sex offences against a girl going back over eight years.
The 44-year-old cleaner faced 18 charges – 14 of them rape – all against the same child between the ages of six and 14.
DC Rob Kirkham, of Preston’s Public Protection Unit and Sex Exploitation Team, said: “The victim in this case, showed immense courage and strength of character beyond her years in reporting the matter and supporting the criminal prosecution.
“The sentence in this case clearly reflects the horrendous breach of trust in stripping the victim of her childhood and naivety.”
During a two-week trial at Preston Crown Court in June Higgins denied raping and abusing the girl, but was found guilty of 13 counts of rape, two of sexual activity with a child, one of indecency with a child and one of indecent assault. He was acquitted on one further charge of rape. The court heard the attacks began when the child was just six and continued until she was 14.
In February this year the girl, now aged 16, reported to police she had been continually raped from the age of six.
The police said that following a lengthy investigation, and despite the allegations being historic, they found forensic evidence to corroborate the victim’s account.
The jury returned 17 unanimous guilty verdicts and Higgins was remanded. When he returned for sentence he was sent to prison for a total of 19 years. Because of the severity of the offences he will have to serve at least two-thirds of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. He will be placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely. When he is eventually released from prison he will be subject to a five-year extended licence.
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We are very pleased with the sentence. Higgins is a dangerous man and he will have to serve almost 13 years before he can apply for parole.”