A CHILD rapist who sexually abused two boys has been caged for 18 years.

Karl McLeish, 57, of Penny Lane, Haydock was found guilty after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court of 13 counts of sexual abuse against two teenage boys.

The offences included four attempted rapes against one boy and two rapes against the other.

McLeish "groomed" his victims, aged 15 and 16 when the abuse began, who believed McLeish was their friend.

He bought them gifts, gave them money and took them on holiday and knew each of his victims' families.

Offences against one of the boys took place in 2002 and against the other during 2015 and 2016.

McLeish was sentenced to an 18-year jail term at Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, December 5.

Matthew Lacey, senior crown prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit, said: “Karl McLeish’s offending followed a familiar pattern in this area of criminality.

“McLeish abused the trust with which he was held by his victims and their families and assaulted the boys on a number of occasions.

“One boy was abused after offering to help McLeish on his allotment, the other got to know the defendant after offering to help out on a farm that McLeish ran on behalf of a friend.

"One boy described McLeish to police as ‘weird’ and said he would lose his temper if he didn’t get his own way.

“His advances were clearly rejected by his victims yet McLeish persisted. They were just children at the time and were left, confused and humiliated.

"In a Victim Personal Statement read to the court, one victim said that McLeish had ‘ruined his life’."

Mr Lacey added: “Sexual offenders very often think nothing of the effect of their actions on their victim and the lifelong repercussions they can have. Instead, they focus on their own sexual gratification.

"McLeish’s victims found the courage to come forward and report what had happened. The Crown Prosecution Service brought this prosecution with the help of evidence gathered by Merseyside Police and Karl McLeish is now behind bars for a long time.

“We hope that the victims continue to find the courage and help to move on with the rest of his life.”

McLeish's sentence also includes an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), which includes stipulation that he must not have any unsupervised contact with a boy under the age of 16.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “These were appalling acts of abuse and both victims have shown tremendous courage in recounting the sustained ordeals they endured.

“Child sexual abuse can have a life-changing impact on survivors and it’s extremely important that both men receive the help and support they require.”

Any adult concerned about the welfare of a child or young person can call the NSPCC helpline for free 24/7 on 0808 8005000.

Meanwhile, children can call Childline on 0800 1111.