A PAEDOPHILE who tried to intimidate a schoolgirl after she witnessed him abusing a child, has been jailed.

Steven Rigby bombarded the 15-year-old teenager with texts and social networking messages when she spoke out against him after finding out he had had sex with her Blackburn school friend.

The 22-year-old who was aware of his victim’s age, had been introduced to the youngsters through mutual friends in June 2011, Preston Crown Court heard.

After an initial meeting where Rigby and his victim exchanged numbers, he contacted the child and offered to pay for a taxi for her to visit him at his home in Ermine Close, Blackburn, prosecutors said.

It was only the second time the pair had met when Rigby had unprotected sex with the underage teen, the court heard.

The ‘unhealthy relationship’ was flagged up to police by the victim herself after she attended a workshop with the multi agency Engage team, who lead the fight into child exploitation in Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley.

Det Sgt Mark Whelan said: “The Engage team held a workshop at the victim’s school and after participating in an activity looking at what makes a safe and unsafe relationship she decided to tell us what had been happening there and then.

“This shows just how important our engagement is with local schools and our multi agency approach into tackling child exploitation.

“The teenage listened to what we had said and decided the relationship she had with Rigby was unhealthy.”

Unemployed Rigby was sentenced to 30 months in prison for each of the two charges of sexual activity with a child under 16. The sentences will run consecutively.

He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life and told he has been disqualified from working with children for life.

Rigby who tried to force a witness to his abuse to retract her statement by sending hundreds of messages via text and Facebook was also sentenced to two months in prison, to run consecutively after being found guilty of witness intimidation.

Judge Helen Lloyd also made him the subject of a three year restraining order.

DS Whelan said: “This man has a complete disregard for women in general and he took advantage of this young victim.

“I am pleased Rigby has been sent to prison for a considerable length of time and I am hopeful this will help bring some closure for his victim.”