A WEAVERHAM man who repeatedly sexually abused a nine-year-old girl in her own home has been jailed for 12 years.

Philip Railton, 38, of Clitheroe Road, committed his crimes of oral rape and sexual touching in Northwich between November 2014 and August 2015.

It was only two years after the offences took place that the victim – described in court as vulnerable – wrote a letter to a ‘police officer’, which was found in her rucksack.

His Honour Judge Simon Berkson said: “This led to the investigation into you being the child abuser you have been found to be.

“Throughout the trial you tried to cast her in a bad light. The jury saw through that and found that you lied.”

The victim’s letter said she did not ‘feel safe’ around Railton, after he had touched her, kissed her, and forced her to perform sexual acts on him.

Her mum found the letter while packing her school bag one morning, handing it over to a social worker before a police officer visited the home.

The police contacted Railton that evening, but did not tell him whom the allegation concerned. Later that night, he called the victim’s mum from a withheld number – something he put down to coincidence.

She said he sounded ‘nervous and confused’, and that there was no further contact between them following the brief phone conversation.

From there, an investigation was launched and the victim recounted the abuse in an interview with police officers.

Railton denied the charges, but after a five-day trial a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on all six counts.

Judge Berkson said: “This is a very sad case because of the way you were able to connect to the victim.

“On six separate occasions you abused your victim.

“The abuse took place in her own home where she should have felt safe. She was under the impression that something bad would happen to her if she told anyone.”

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Railton will serve half of his 12-year custodial sentence before he is considered for release.

He was also handed a year’s extended licence, and a restraining order against the family. He will be subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.

Cheshire Police’s dedicated rape unit oversaw the investigation into Railton.

DC Mo Deakin, from the unit, said: “First and foremost I want to acknowledge the remarkable bravery and courage of the young victim in this case.

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"To be subjected to such a horrific experience at such a young age is bad enough, but to then have to re-live it in court is truly awful.

“This case has been challenging for all those involved, but especially for the victim and her family.

"I have worked alongside them for the past two years and they have been an immense source of support for each other through a very difficult and trying time.

“Philip Railton committed horrendous offences against a young child. He maintained his innocence throughout but thankfully the jury has seen through his lies and convicted him of six sexual offences.

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“I am pleased that there has been a successful conclusion to this case and a dangerous sexual offender is now behind bars, where he will remain for a very long time.

“I hope that this gives other victims in a similar situation the courage to come forward and report what has happened to them.

“Cheshire’s Dedicated Rape Unit has a team of specialist officers committed to dealing with this type of crime, and providing advice and support to victims.”

To report any sexual offence call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111