A SWIMMING instructor who groomed a schoolgirl by bombarding her with hundreds sexually explicit messages has been jailed.

Simon Brooks, from Culcheth, asked to meet the 14-year-old girl – who he coached at a swimming club in Newton-le-Willows - ‘for kisses and cuddles’ in a string of lewd Instagram messages.

Today, Friday, the 53-year-old was handed three years behind bars at Liverpool Crown Court.

The court heard that Brooks, of Jackson Avenue, attempted to contact his young victim on social media – and although she initially refused these approaches, she later allowed him to message her.

Over the following three months, the married dad to two sons sent the teenager more than 200 explicit messages.

A qualified engineer who worked in the nuclear industry and is now employed by a national distribution company, Brooks asked to meet the girl in his car and at the swimming pool for kisses and cuddles.

The defendant, who had no previous convictions, also asked his victim to send naked pictures of herself – although the teen refused.

His offending only came to light when a friend she had confided in told the victim’s parents about what had happened.

Brooks – who has since split from his wife of 25 years because of his offending – had been a coach at the swimming club for many years, with volunteers ‘shocked’ after learning of his behaviour.

He admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual communications with a child and two counts of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming – but still ‘demonstrates elements of continuing denial’ about his abuse.

The victim’s dad spoke of how he felt guilty at not spotting Brooks’ ‘classic grooming technique’ and that he had ‘massively abused her trust’, Defence barrister Steven Swift told the court: “He is a man who lost his way in life.

“He struggles to find explanation and justification, but indicates he wishes to engage with those who can help him focus on the issues involved.”

Judge Robert Warnock jailed Brooks and ordered him to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years – also handing him a sexual harm prevention order for the same time period.

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Sentencing, judge Warnock: “As her swimming instructor and purported friend of the family. you bombarded her with wholly inappropriate messages.

“She received them and was deeply troubled by them.

“Those messages were wholly inappropriate, sexual suggestions and completely inappropriate remarks about your feeling towards her.

“It was a campaign of a paedophile and you must face up to that fact.

“That is what you did.”