A TEENAGE boy has been sentenced after his two convictions for sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl were upheld.

The 16-year-old boy was found guilty by magistrates and had appealed but was unsuccessful in overturning the decision.

A two-day appeal was held at Bolton Crown Court last month and the boy, who was just 13 at the time of the offences, returned to court where he sat between his parents as Judge Graeme Smith handed down his sentence.

Describing the facts of the case, Judge Smith said the mothers of the boy and his victim were very good friends and the incident had taken place in July 2017 during a visit by the victim and her mother to the boy’s house.

While the two children were in the boy’s bedroom and their mothers downstairs, he sexually assaulted her twice.

The little girl complained immediately and was referred to St Mary’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Manchester.

The following day she was interviewed by police officers and DNA evidence was later found on the girl’s clothing.

Judge Smith said it was regrettable that the boy’s trial at the youth court had not begun until January 2020 - almost two and a half years after the offences took place.

“The unexplained delay in charging you is a matter of great concern given yours and the victim’s ages and the fact that all the material evidence seems to have been available for some time,” he said.

“The offences with which you have been convicted are very serious - sexual assault of a child under 13 and sexual assault of a child under 13 via penetration. If you were an adult the starting point for sentence would be eight years in custody.

“However, you are not an adult and the sentencing guidelines make it clear that custodial sentences are particularly rare for children aged 14 or under and should focus on rehabilitation if that is possible.”

Judge Smith said that he must consider the boy’s welfare which would not be the case with an adult offender and he praised the teenager for taking on voluntary work and obtaining a college course.

He also said that personal details had been put into the public domain via social media by members of the public.

“Serious breaches of the reporting restrictions in this case have led to your identity and address being made public and this has resulted in serious threats being made to you and and your parents leaving your home,” he said. “These actions are already having a serious detrimental affect on your welfare.”

Judge Smith imposed an 18 month Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO) with “intensive supervision and surveillance” and a rehabilitation activity requirement of 91 days.

The boy will be the subject of an electronically monitored curfew for three months between 7pm and 7am and he will also have to sign the sex offenders register for two and a half years.