A STUDENT who repeatedly had sex with a Pendle schoolgirl under a canal bridge has been jailed for two years and four months.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Hamiza Ali, now 19, had approached the girl, then 12, on Facebook in May 2011.

Police were called after what happened created a “scandal” at her school and the authorities were alerted.

The hearing was told how Ali first struck when he was 17 when he was a student at Nelson and Colne College.

He left the victim feeling confused and his actions had broken her relationship with her father.

The defendant, of Elizabeth Street, Nelson, admitted four charges of sexual activity with a child.

He was ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years, banned from working with children and was given a five-year sexual offences prevention order prohibiting him from being unsupervised with any female under 16.

Robert Elias, prosecuting, said Ali made contact but the girl was taken off Facebook by her family but she continued contact on her mobile phone. They met, he asked for sex, but she said she did not want to be known as easy. Ali said her age didn't matter.

The girl told her friends, a scandal broke out, and her mother was contacted last April.

Mr Elias said Ali had sex with the girl four times under a canal bridge.

The defendant, who had no previous convictions, was arrested in May last year at his home and taken to Burnley police station where he made no comment to all questions.

Mr Elias told the hearing the victim said she felt confused and the offences affected her relationship with her family. She said she was paranoid even now and felt judged.

Ahmed Nadim, for Ali, said he was socially unskilled and immature.

There was no exploitation involved nor abuse of trust.

The barrister said: “He comes from a decent, hard-working background and there is nothing to suggest he has any anti-social, criminal habits.”

Mr Nadim said it had been Ali's ambition to start university this year and he had had an offer to study forensic computing. He had not been able to take that because of the case.

Sentencing, Recorder Anthony Cross QC told the defendant: “You must have known that what you were doing was unlawful.”