A SEXUAL predator who twice abducted a girl and left her fearing she would never see her family again has been jailed for 11-and-half years.

A court heard how Dean Hughes, 48, had befriended the then 13-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, when she had visited her estranged father in Nelson last summer.

Preston Crown Court was told how Hughes initially showered the girl with gifts, including cash, handbags and a watch, but later became controlling and used verbal threats and physical violence against her.

Prosecutor David Traynor told the court how Hughes groomed the victim by showing her more attention than her father.

In July 2016 a sexual relationship between the teenager and defendant began.

Mr Traynor told the court that before the school holidays Hughes and the victim had sex 10 times but after that it was on a daily basis.

The prosecution said Hughes even took the victim to a chemist so she could get information on contraception for fear of her getting pregnant.

Mr Traynor said: "It's the prosecution's view that the relationship between the defendant and victim was a multi-faceted one.

"There was an element of pleasant behaviour, elements of threats and manipulation.

"Although the victim was going around to the house of her own volition it was a relationship which was completely controlled by Dean Hughes."

The prosecution said Hughes would send his victim threatening texts and when she went on a trip to Blackpool on August 24 told her to come to his house as soon as she returned three days later.

When she arrived back in Nelson, Hughes took her to his home at some point in the afternoon.

A family member was so concerned the police were called and she was seen running out of the back of Hughes' house in her pyjamas by officers.

Hughes and Dale Beresford, 23, who both lived in the house in Temple Street, Nelson, were arrested on suspicion of abduction and held until the following day.

On their release on August 28, and despite being given a child abduction notice by the police, Hughes and Beresford abducted the girl.

Mr Traynor said Hughes smashed the victims phone at Quarry Hill Nature Reserve in Nelson so she was unable to contact her family.

On August 29 the court was told they slept at the quarry, the following day they slept in a car, before parking up in a farmer's field in Lowick, Cumbria, the following day.

The abduction had sparked a manhunt and the victim and co-defendants were recognised by the farmer who owned the field.

He called the police and the victim was found half-dressed inside the tent, along with Beresford and although he attempted to run away, Hughes was stopped by nearby. Both men were arrested at the scene.

In a victim impact statement the victim said she had been left suicidal, anxious and with a fear and distrust of men as a result of Hughes's actions.

The statement said: "When he took me I was terrified I would never see my family again or hear their voices.

"Hughes hasn't just ruined my life, he has broken my family."

Defending Hughes, Alwyn Jones said although his client had 48 convictions none of them involved sexual offences against children.

Mr Jones said: "It's clear he's not a habitual sexual offender who deals in the sexual abuse of children."

Defending Beresford, Robert Ilyas said his client had been bullied by Hughes, had meant no ill-will towards the victim and had merely 'been a passenger' on the trip to Cumbria.

Beresford pleaded guilty to abducting a child and was given 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Hughes pleaded not guilty to three counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child and two child abductions but was found guilty after trial.

He was cleared by a jury of a single count of rape.

As well as the custodial sentence he was also made subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.

He pleaded guilty to breeching a suspended sentence for an unrelated driving matter.

For that he was banned from driving for seven years and six months.

Judge Record Stephen Riordan said: “She was clearly a vulnerable and emotionally damaged child before Dean Hughes met her. But that’s the nature and background of this young girl on whom he preyed.”