A TEENAGER who was jailed for six years after he sexually abused his five-year-old cousin has been freed by the court of appeal — leaving his victim’s family devastated.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced to six years in prison by Judge Peter Davies at Bolton Crown Court in October last year.

But at a hearing at the Court of Appeal, three judges quashed the sentence and he was given a youth rehabilitation order.

Judge Davies said the boy was at high risk of reoffending and imposed an extended sentence, with six years of further licence after being released.

The girl was just five years old when the abuse started, and the boy was aged between 13 and 15.

The victim’s mother says she will fight the appeal court’s decision.

She said: “This has taken justice away from my little girl. I do not understand how it can go from a significant jail sentence to him being let out. He pleaded guilty to 16 offences and now he is Scot free.

“How do I tell my daughter this? I have to tell her because she could see him in the community. There is nothing to stop him coming near our house and she thinks he is locked up.

“I am having a meeting with my MP to see if we can go any further with this.

“They said he got this new sentence because he was a youth. Then why was it sent to the Crown Court to be dealt with?

“When he was sentenced it was a relief as he couldn’t hurt my daughter any more. Now we will be back to square one.”

He pleaded guilty to three counts of assault by penetration of a child, nine counts of sexual assault and four counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

At the sentencing hearing, Bolton Crown Court heard that the families were close, but between March, 2009, and November, 2011, the boy began abusing his cousin.

He exposed himself to her and it gradually became more serious and he sexually assaulted her and insisted she perform sex acts on him.

The abuse only ended when the girl plucked up the courage to tell her mother about it.

Farrhat Arshad, who defended the boy, argued that the sentencing principles for children are different to adults and the primary purpose is rehabilitation to make sure to make sure they do not do it again.

She argued that the best way to protect the public was to given a youth rehabilitation order, which the lengthy presentence report and psychological report supported.

The judges overturned the original sentence and Lady Justice Rafferty imposed a two- year youth rehabilitation order, which will include supervision, and he must go on a programme requirement specific to the offences which is run by the NSPCC.