A PAEDOPHILE has been jailed for four years after he sexually abused young girls at his home.

Malcolm Hicks, who worked as a caretaker at Crompton Health Centre, would regularly have children as young as nine staying at his Tonge Fold home.

Bolton Crown Court heard the youngsters were attracted to the house as they were able to watch horror films, bake cakes and stay up late.

Hicks also took the girls out to Blackpool and Southport, and gave one of them a smartphone.

He took advantage of the young girls and touched them inappropriately at the house, the court was told.

The 51-year-old was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault on a 10-year-old, and pleaded guilty to a further three counts of sexual assault on two other girls, aged 10 and 13, before a retrial.

All the incidents happened at his home in Hengist Street during the school holidays or at weekends in summer last year.

He was accused of pinning an 11-year-old girl up against a wall inside the Crompton Health Centre, Astley Bridge, before sexually assaulting her but he was cleared of that offence.

Judge Peter Davies said: “You assured the girls’ parents the girls would be safe staying at yours overnight. They trusted you.

“You allowed the girls to stay up late and play. They had free rein to do what they pleased.

“You engaged them in games and physical activity for your sexual gratification.”

The court heard the offences came to light when a teacher noticed differences in behaviour and one of the girls confided in them.

In victim statements the girls said they were scared to tell their mothers because they were worried about getting into trouble and blamed themselves for what was happening.

One of the 10-year-olds said she did not feel comfortable around men of Hicks’ age in case it happpened again.

Another said she thought he did it because he was lonely, and the 13-year-old said she did not want to get married after what happened.