A DELIVERY driver who groomed a 14-year-old girl on Snapchat and abused her has been branded as a "cruel sexual predator".

James Prytherch, 33, exchanged various text messages and conversations on Snapchat with his victim, which became increasingly sexualised.

He began collecting her in his van and drove her to secluded locations during this year’s school summer holidays and they engaged in sexual activity.

On Friday, Prytherch, of Cheviot Avenue, Ashtons Green was jailed at Liverpool Crown Court for six years after admitting to 16 sexual offences between July 24 and September 5.

Keith Sutton, prosecuting, said that the offences came to light after the girl confided in a friend who told school staff and social services and police were alerted.

Mr Sutton said Prytherch began chatting online with the girl on July 24 and they became flirty and began swapping photographs, initially of them clothed, but later intimate pictures and he told her she was his first underage girl.

He began picking her up in his van and taking her to secluded locations for sexual activity.

Prytherch, who sent her links to pornographic material, discussed how they would meet after she returned to school but after she confided in a friend social services were contacted on September 4.

While a social worker was talking to her the defendant texted her and he became concerned when he realised she was taking screenshots of the messages and trying to use a Snapchat map to locate him, added Mr Sutton.

Prytherch, who has no previous convictions, had told the child he lived in shared accommodation and spoke of her getting a key to his home but he was actually living with his partner and children.

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Sentencing him Judge Garrett Byrne said that the defendant had not tried to minimise his behaviour and recognised he had been motivated only by his own sexual gratification.

“You gave no thought to the emotional consequences on this young woman and her family," he said.

He ordered Prytherch to sign the Sexual Offences Register for life and imposed an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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Prytherch was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court

Stuart Nolan, defending, said that Prytherch had pleaded guilty and is genuinely remorseful. “He realises he has caused lasting damage to her and her family and himself and his family.”

Following Prytherch's sentencing, a spokesperson for the NSPCC said: “Prytherch is a cruel sexual predator who groomed a vulnerable child before repeatedly sexually assaulting her.

"This sickening behaviour will leave the girl with emotional and mental scars that could last the rest of her lifetime, and it is vital that the victim now receives all the support she needs to recover and move forward.

“Thanks to the bravery of this young girl, Prytherch no longer poses a threat to children. The NSPCC’s Liverpool base offers the ‘Protect and Respect’ service, which is designed to help young people explore healthy relationships and understand the dangers of grooming.”