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20 February 2015, 12:13 | Updated: 20 February 2015, 12:17
A man who sexually abused young girls in Peterborough over a period of 14 years has been jailed for 18 years.
Alan Burgess, 65, of Seymour Place, Paston, Peterborough, began abusing his first victim when she was only four years old.
He had become friends with the girl's mother and gained her trust before babysitting on numerous occasions. He had also bought the girl gifts and paid for activities.
However, in 2013, the victim, who is now 19, came forward and reported the abuse she had suffered at the hands of Burgess in her childhood.
He was found guilty on seven counts against the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, following an eight-day trial at Peterborough Crown Court last month. They were: three counts of indecent assault, three counts of sexual assault, attempted rape and taking indecent photos.
As a result of inquiries, police officers also discovered three further victims that Burgess had targeted in a similar way, by gaining the trust of their parents and even helping them out financially.
Burgess, who was formerly a delivery driver, was found guilty of the sexual assault of a nine-year-old girl between July 2005 and July 2006, four counts of sexual assault between March 2012 and March 2013, against another girl aged 11, and three counts of sexual assault, between October 2011 and October 2013, against a further girl, who turned eight over the period concerned.
Following Burgess' arrest, computer equipment was seized at his home and found to contain thousands of indecent images of children.
As a result he was also found guilty of possessing 32 indecent images of children, including two at level 5, the most severe level; making just under 7000 indecent images of children, most at level 3 but five at level 5; and making an indecent image of a child, namely video footage of an unknown girl.
Today (February 20), Burgess was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court.
DC Mark Andrews, who investigated, said: "Burgess targeted vulnerable girls with difficult backgrounds, families with financial troubles and who had no father figure in their lives.
"He would develop the trust of the mothers by offering his services as a babysitter. He would then buy the girls gifts, pay for horse riding lessons and take them bowling. He would even pay for bills and in one victimâ€™s case he acted as a guarantor for their house.
"Once he had gained the parents' trust the abuse would start.
"All of the victims showed huge amounts of courage in giving their evidence at court and should be commended. In particular, the information provided by the victim who first reported Burgess to us helped identified the other victims and safeguarded them from potential further abuse.
"Burgess's crimes were truly despicable and the seriousness of his offending is reflected in the sentence handed out today. I hope the victims can now begin rebuilding their lives in the knowledge that justice has been done."