A 'HIGH-risk' paedophile got a job in a Nelson town centre shop and groomed children, after keeping his sordid past a secret from the owner, a court heard.

Gavin Shaw, 54, has served a string of jail terms for attacks on youngsters, going back nearly 40 years, and was subject to a sexual offences prevention order, banning him from having contact with any child under 16, at the time.

Burnley Crown Court was told how Shaw gave a toy and money to a little girl he sat on his knee and got very friendly with a boy.

He was caught after police, making a routine risk management visit to his Nelson home, discovered he had been working at the shop.

The defendant hurled a CS gas canister at officers and told them: “You might as well lock me up for that as well.”

Shaw, of Belgrave Street, admitted breaching the SOPO and possessing a prohibited weapon on April 24 and was jailed for 18 months.

He has previous convictions, which started in 1975, for gross indecency, indecent assault, attempted serious sexual offences and flouting the SOPO.

He has already been sent to prison at least seven times and has been handed terms of seven years, six years, four years and 41 months. Charles Brown, prosecuting, said Shaw regularly assisted at the store unpaid and looked after it unattended.

The owner knew nothing of his history. Shaw was not allowed contact with anyone under 16, unless supervised, with the prior approval of social services, or unless it was fleeting or inadvertent, which clearly the contacts were not.

Robert Elias, for the defendant, said he had not been convicted of molesting a child for 10 years.

He had ‘moved on’' from adolescent boys to gay men.

The barrister said: “He robustly denies having any sexual motive with the two children. He didn't seek them out. They came into the shop when he was there.”

Mr Elias said Shaw had disregarded a SOPO not the first time, or indeed the second time.

The barrister added: “He knows and is resigned to a custodial sentence today. He doesn't consider himself to be a threat to children, but that is not the view of the probation service.”

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said Shaw was assessed as high-risk. He told the defendant: “Court orders are there to be obeyed. The sexual offences prevention order is there to protect children.”