A YOUNG child cut her hair to look like a boy because she was being sexually abused, a court heard.

Nicholas West, aged 56, is standing trial for a catalogue of historic sex abuse charges, which are alleged to have taken place between 1993 and 2003.

West, of Elmwood Grove, Farnworth, denies 11 counts of indecent assault and seven counts of gross indecency with a child. Henry Blackshaw, prosecuting, told the court the crimes only came to light when an unrelated incident “touched a nerve” with the alleged victim, who is now an adult, and she decided she could not keep the abuse she suffered quiet any longer.

At Bolton Crown Court yesterday the jury of eight women and four men heard that West allegedly abused the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, from “as early as she could remember”.

The alleged abuse continued until she was 13, the court heard.

On one occasion, another child recalled seeing West entering the girl’s bedroom.

But when he queried what he saw, West told him he had seen a ghost.

Mr Blackshaw said: “The alleged victim cut her hair very strangely so it was short at the front, before a school photograph.

“She wanted to look like a boy. In her own mind it was an emotional response to what the defendant was doing to her.”

The alleged victim remained in contact with West until a short time before his arrest, which the prosecution claim is often the case and does not suggest the woman was not abused.

When arrested West denied “emphatically” that he had sexually abused the girl and said there had been “no ill will” between him and the complainant.

The case continues.