A WOMAN who was sexually abused by a man as a child has described how his actions have changed her life forever.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Stephen Bates, 68, inappropriately touched the girl under her skirt and also made her touch his private parts.

Bates told the girl that if she reported the abuse to anyone the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, would be taken away from her family. Bates, who was in his 20s at the time the offences took place, also exposed the child to adult magazines.

A harrowing statement, summarised by prosecutor Francis McEntee, said: “She has undertaken various forms of counselling and therapy. She said what the defendant did to her changed her forever. He stole her innocence. He corrupted her. He made her into his plaything.

“She said he taught her to be devious and secretive.”

Mr McEntee added: “He changed her from a curious, trusting and care-free child - happy and confident - to making her fearful of being alone and scared of the dark. She began bed-wetting and having night terrors.”

Bates, of Montford Road, Nelson, pleaded guilty to indecency with a child and indecent assault on a child.

Defending, Gordon Hennell, said his client had shown genuine remorse for his actions, not only making full and frank admissions to his family but also his boss.

Mr Hennell said: “This isn’t somebody who comes to court saying I am guilty and that is it. He has displayed full remorse, expressions of shame and recognition of the devastating impact this must have had on his victim.”

Mr Hennell said since the commission of these offences his client had led a law-abiding life.

Sentencing Bates to two years custody, but suspending it for 24 months, Judge Sara Dodd said: “I accept your remorse in this case to be genuine.”

Bates was made subject of a six-month curfew and order to sign the sex offender’s register for 10 years. An indefinite restraining order was imposed banning him from contacting his victim.