A predator has been locked up for historic abuse after subjecting a child to a campaign of sex attacks.
Richard Watkins, 29, who was a teenager when the abuse began, has been jailed for six years after being found guilty of seven counts of sexual assault.
Watkins, of Winskell Road, in South Shields, had denied the charges but a jury found him guilty of them all – three of assaulting a child under 13 by penetration, three of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one of sexual assault of a child.
The court also heard how Watkins threatened his young victim,
Prosecutor Jonathan Devlin told the court how the victim has suffered considerable damage, both mentally and physically, as a result of the abuse.
He added that the girl was extremely vulnerable.
Lee Fish, defending, said that many adolescents find themselves carrying out “sexual experiments” at a young age and that Watkins has now since matured.
He said: “This man has no previous convictions. He has lived his entire adult life responsibly and abides by the law.
“He did not commit any of these offences as an adult. This defendant is not a risk to the public.”
But Judge Bindloss said that Watkins was mature for his age at the time of the offence.
He said: “You were relatively mature for your age. You were working, you had a girlfriend.
“There was no element of consent from this girl. This was in no way an experiment that you regretted and never repeated. You threatened her so that you could get your way.”
Jailing Watkins for six years, Judge Bindloss, who sentenced the defendant as though he was a juvenile, added: “Given that you are still in denial of these offences and you have shown no victim awareness at all, you still pose a risk of committing sexual offences against children.”