A PAEDOPHILE who preyed on girls in a park has been sent to jail.
Benjamin Brine, 21, had been charged with eight counts of engaging in sexual activity with children aged 12, 13 and 15.
The defendant, of Princess Street, Blackburn, was told at Preston Crown Court yesterday that he must now serve four years and six months behind bars.
MORE TOP STORIES:
- Blackburn school forced to close kitchen after mice found in dining hall
- WATCH: Shocking video of Blackburn man forcing cats to fight causes outrage on Facebook
- Dozens of cars stopped and taxis taken off the road during Blackburn roads crackdown
- IN PICTURES: 35 photos from East Lancashire primary and high schools during the 1980s and 1990s
Speaking after the sentence, Det Insp Claire McEnery, from the public protection unit, said: “Brine was a predatory individual who targeted young females who were vulnerable to his advances because of the age difference.
"The police were relentless in his pursuit and I hope that the outcome sends a strong message to other adults who prey on children.”
Prosecuting at the earlier hearing, Adam Lodge said: “Mr Brine was deliberately preying on young girls in the park, a sexual predator in the community.
“One of his victims also began to self harm when she found out he had been involved with other young girls.”
James Heywoth, for Brine, had told the court that the defendant, who had no previous convictions, had had time to reflect on his behaviour while remanded into custody.
He said: “Benjamin is not a predatory paedophile, he was in a relationship with one of the girls and said he loved her. He now realises that he should have been the person to say no.
“At the time he was 18 and 19, and he now has great regret to his behaviour and has had time to reflect whilst in custody.
“This young man found himself hanging around with young people and will now have to bear the consequences.
“He has done everything he can do to recognise what he has done wrong.”