Manchester

Man jailed over schoolgirl abuse in Greater Manchester

Derek Atkinson
Image caption Atkinson was jailed for nine years

A 61-year-old man who persuaded school girls to visit his house before sexually abusing them has been jailed.

Derek Atkinson, of HMP Forest Bank, admitted 18 offences including sexual assault on a female under 16 and four counts of indecency with a child.

Police said the abuse began at his home in Hindley, Wigan, in 2001, when he befriended a 13-year-old girl. He later abused a group of local schoolgirls.

Atkinson was jailed for nine years at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday.

Other charges he admitted include three counts of indecent assault on a female under the age of 16 and 10 counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

He was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life and made subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for 10 years.

Bravery praised

Greater Manchester Police said the offences came to light after one of the girls confided in a police officer who was based at her school.

Atkinson was first arrested in December 2009, and as the investigation unfolded, six more girls aged between 12 and 14 years old came forward.

Det Con Rob Kitchen, who led the investigation, said: "Atkinson invited these children to his home and sexually abused them.

"I would like to praise the bravery of one of these girls who had the courage to not keep it to herself but confide in a police officer based at her local school.

"Because of that, we were able to launch an investigation and it was quickly apparent Atkinson had abused a number of children.

Police said the case highlighted the benefits of having school-based officers along with teachers the pupils trusted.

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