A SCOUT leader who sexually assaulted three young girls — one aged just five — has avoided jail.

David Patterson, aged 66, of Lostock, was given a suspended sentence for indecently assaulting three young girls in the 1980s and 1990s.

Two of the girls were abused when they were aged between five and 10, and the third was aged six when she was assaulted. Patterson has been banned from working with children, told he will never be involved in the Scouting movement again and ordered to sign the sex offenders register.

Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard yesterday how Patterson has now “lost everything”.

Patterson, of Stonebridge Close, was due to stand trial last month, but admitted the three charges before it started.

The court heard the charges Patterson had pleaded guilty to represented a “course of conduct he had carried out over a number of years” and not individual incidents.

Patterson abused the girls either at his house, in a caravan or other holiday destinations.

Judge Timothy Mort ordered seven other charges of indecent assault against the girls, which Patterson has denied, be ordered to lie on file.

The court heard the incidents involved him playing games with the children.

One involved a girl sitting on his knee and playing on a computer, and having to kiss him when she got to the next level in the game Another involved the girls sliding down his legs on to his groin in bed, with the duvet between them.

Wayne Jackson, defending, said: "He has now lost everything in real terms. He is no longer wanted by the Scout movement he was involved with for 40 years.

“He had a brick thrown through his window following the last court hearing. He is remorseful and acknowledges the psychological impact on all three.

“He will have to deal with causing those victims stress and trauma.”

Patterson’s offences emerged when one of his victims reported what he had done to police.

Two other victims were identified by detectives during their investigations.

When he was arrested in September, 2010, Patterson was a respected Scout leader with the 33rd Bolton East Scout group in Bromley Cross and had been involved with the organisation since 1964.

He was immediately suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation and the Scout Association co-operated with police.

A spokesman for the Scout Association said: “He will never work for the Scout movement again and we are pleased he has been sentenced for his crimes.”

The court heard probation believed Patterson was at a low risk of reoffending.

Judge Timothy Mort, sentencing, said: “I am in an unusual situation. The probation service consider that it should be looked at in isolation.

“You have given great service in voluntary work through Scouting. There is no suggestion that has been inappropriate in any way when carried out.

“One might expect that if you were grooming it might have come to the fore but it has not.”

Patterson was sentenced to 15 months in prison suspended for 18 months. He must sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.

Det Con Mike Mather, of Bolton Child Protection Unit, said: “I want to praise the extraordinary bravery of the victims to come forward after all these years.

“It can’t have been easy to speak to the police about this, but I hope this outcome will encourage other victims of abuse generally to come forward.

“I hope this demonstrates the police’s commitment to prosecuting sex offenders, no matter how long ago they committed their crimes.”