THE grandparents of a young girl today told of their torment after the man who sexually abused her was jailed for eight-and-a-half years.
Lorry driver Brendan Tracey, 55, admitted five sexual offences against the young girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
He also admitted perverting the course of justice by sending threatening messages to the victim’s mother in May.
His case comes as the Evening Post publishes a special report on the abuse and exploitation of youngsters.
Today the girl’s grandparents, who also cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “We lie awake at night worried sick, going over and over it in our heads.”
Her grandfather added: “It’s has had a massive impact on the family, it’s broken the family.”
As the dad-of-two begins an eight-and-a-half-year sentence, the girl’s nanna revealed she had already spoken to her in the past about abuse.
The pensioner, from Preston, said: “She’s my only granddaughter and I love her to bits.
“We want to warn people about him – we don’t want him to do it to anyone else.
“We feel his sentence wasn’t enough, really.”
She revealed how the youngster had broken down when the couple began quizzing her after noticing she was behaving in a worrying way during a visit to their home.
The pensioner added: “We are the ones who got it out of her. She is normally a very cuddly child but she was holding herself as if she didn’t want to be touched.
“When anyone sat next to her she kept moving around the room. We asked her about it but never dreamed it was sexual abuse.
“I asked her if she was being bullied and all kinds of things then suddenly it dawned on me.
“I asked if she remembered when we had a talk about if anyone did anything to her and she must tell someone – I asked was it that, and she got up and ran into the next room.
“She sobbed for nearly two hours.
“She didn’t want tell me because I had suffered four heart attacks and she did not want me to suffer another.”
Judge Philip Parry, sitting at Preston Crown Court, imposed an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and placed Tracey on the barring list.
The family spoke after figures showed that more than 500 crimes involving child abuse were recorded in Lancashire in the first three months of the financial year.
Today a spokesman for Lancashire Police said there were dedicated teams of people working across Lancashire from many different organisations to help victims to escape the cycle of abuse.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged him after his young victim disclosed the abuse to her family.
A network of child sexual abuse specialists, established in each of the CPS Areas in 2013, serves as a source of expertise, guidance and good practice for prosecutors and all child sexual abuse cases are now handled by specialist teams in the RASSO (Rape and Serious Sexual Assault) units.
Wendy Lloyd, Senior Crown Prosecutor for the North West Rape and Serious Sexual Offences unit said: “Brendan Tracey is a predatory bully who subjected a young teenager to a series of degrading sexual assaults over a 10-month period.
“He was well aware of her age when he abused her for his own sexual gratification. He became more aggressive with each assault as he overpowered her whilst ignoring her pleas for him to stop.
“When he was initially arrested, he denied carrying out the abuse. He then passed the blame to the victim by sending the victim’s mother numerous text messages calling the girl a liar and trying to get them to drop the charges. However, he eventually pleaded guilty to sexually abusing her and intimidating her mother.
“I would like to thank the victim for standing up to her abuser which has enabled us to bring the defendant before the courts.
“As he begins this prison sentence, he must now face up the consequences of his appalling actions.
“The CPS and police urge anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse to come forward and report it to the authorities. We are committed to bringing those who have committed such offences before the courts and will support victims in every possible way throughout the process.”
More than 500 crimes involving the sexual abuse of children were recorded in Lancashire in just three months, police figures have shown.
While such reports seem to be worryingly prevalent in the headlines, authorities believe the figures show that more and more people are gaining to courage to report and discuss what has happened to them.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show for the first quarter of this financial year, police in Lancashire recorded 44 offences of sexual activity involving a child under 13, a further 142 involving a child under 16, 151 sex assaults on girls over 13 and 67 assaults on girls under 13.
There were 20 sexual assaults recorded on boys over 13 and 18 on boys under 13.
In the same period 22 rapes of girls under 13 were recorded, with 23 rapes of girls under 16.
There were also 23 rapes of boys under 13, and six of boys under 16
The figures are monitored by the NSPCC.
Today an NSPCC spokesman told the Evening Post while the increase was positive, more still needed to be done to help youngsters.
She said: “Operation Yewtree helped give Savile’s victims a voice, but it also helped give many other sexual abuse survivors the courage to come forward and seek justice for the abhorrent crimes they were subjected to.
“There is far more emphasis on safeguarding today. Improvements in prevention as well as early detection of child sexual abuse means more children are kept safer than ever before, but we need to do more.
“The NSPCC is asking internet providers to do more to prevent children being at risk online, and we are working with O2 to ensure parents have as much information as possible to help them keep their children safe online.
“We visit schools across the UK to help children understand the importance of speaking out to stay safe when they have concerns, and make sure Childline is always there for children and young people when they need help.”
The figures show an increase in boys under 13 coming forward compared to the same quarter last year when 13 rapes of boys under 13 were reported and five of boys under 16
During that period there were also 121 crimes of sexual activity involving a child under 13 and 70 involving a child under 16, with 149 assaults of girls over 13 and 62 on girls under 13.
At that time there were 22 sexual assaults recorded on boys over 13 and 15 on boys under 13.
A spokesman for Lancashire Constabulary said the force was committed to preventing child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice.
He said: “It is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere – regardless of their social or ethnic background.
“It involves offenders grooming youngsters and using their power to sexually abuse them. It can take many forms, whether it occurs through a seemingly ‘consensual’ relationship with an older boyfriend, or a young person having sex in return for attention, gifts, alcohol or cigarettes.
“Sexual exploitation is child abuse and, although they may not realise it, it puts the young victim at huge risk of damage to their physical, emotional and psychological health.
“Many young people who are being abused do not realise they are at risk and will not call for help. They may see themselves as willing participants when in fact their behaviour is anything but consenting.”
“While there is no stereotypical victim of exploitation, there are warning signs in children’s behaviour that may indicate something is wrong – and if you know what you’re looking for, you can take steps to help them.”
He warned unusual activity such as unexplained gifts or money, secrecy over use of a mobile phone, significantly older friends and truanting coudl be among signs a child is suffering from exploitation.
He added: “Offenders come from many different social and ethnic backgrounds but they all have one thing in common. They are abusing young people and are using their status or position to exploit vulnerable victims.”
There have been major changes to how abuse is tackled in the county.
Teams of people from different organisations such as police, social services, Trading Standards, and health agencies share information and coordinate responses for each report. Education packages are also delivered in many schools highlighting the dangers, warning signs and raising awareness about sexual exploitation.