A GRANDFATHER who started a sexual relationship with 13-yearold girl he met at a golf club has been jailed for three years.

Eric Melia, aged 63, befriended the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, at Lowes Park Golf Club in Bury and kept in touch with her for several months before suggesting he collect her from Radcliffe so she could come to his home.

Geoff Whelan, prosecuting, said the first time the girl went to Melia’s home in Tottington Road, Bury, they watched TV until he suggested going upstairs.

While in his bedroom he asked her if she had had sex before. The girl went to the bathroom and when she returned he was naked.

Melia then abused her.

The abuse took place on a number of occasions between June and August last year.

The crimes came to light when the girl’s mother noticed she was using her mobile phone constantly.

The girl eventually handed over her phone and her mother was “horrified” at the content of the text messages, which made it clear there had been a sexual relationship.

In a victim impact statement, the girl said she had never kissed anyone before Melia. She said Melia made her feel nice and she thought she was his girlfriend. She said she felt ashamed and felt like the incidents were her fault. Iain Johnstone, defending, said Melia, a carpet fitter, was a divorced grandfather, who had difficulties dealing with the death of his elderly mother last year.

He admitted knowing the relationship was wrong but “didn’t regret it because he thought the world of her”.

Judge Peter Davies, sentencing Melia, said: “You met girl of 13 at the golf club. You knew she was 13 but you ruined her with compliments.

“You were intent in forming a relationship with her from the beginning, thus this relationship came to fruit.”