Maurice McCullough, 75, posed as 16-year-old to groom girl for sex

Maurice McCullough Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Maurice McCullough admitted 11 child sex charges at a previous hearing

A 75-year-old man who posed as a 16-year-old boy on social media to groom a young girl into have sex with him has been jailed for 10 years.

Maurice McCullough, from Wythenshawe in Greater Manchester, befriended his victim when she was aged 12.

He was caught after a member of the public became suspicious when seeing the couple in Sherdley Park, St Helens.

McCullough admitted 11 child sex charges at a previous hearing in Liverpool Crown Court.

Police said McCullough spent months grooming his victim and went on to meet her at hotels and secluded locations across St Helens, where he "took advantage of her trusting nature" and sexually abused her.

Ch Supt Julie Cooke from Merseyside Police said McCullough was a "sexual predator who went to extraordinary lengths to groom his victim".

'Family in pieces'

In a witness statement, the victim's mother said: "The visit from the police to tell us our daughter had been groomed and abused was like a bullet; it shattered our lives.

"My daughter had not shown any outward signs of being upset or distressed, so the news was completely unexpected.

"He had taken away her innocence, her childhood, gone forever.

"We're a family in pieces, trying to keep it together."

McCullough, of Holyhead Road, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of causing or inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity; eight counts of sexual activity with a child; one count of attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child and one count of meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The offences occurred between October 2013 and the end of November 2014.

He has also been ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life and has been made the subject of a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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