A man who sexually abused four girls has been jailed for 16 years.

James Paffey was convicted of 26 crimes following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The offences came to light in September 2019, after one of the victims bravely came forward to police.

And within three days, Paffey, of no fixed address in the Clacton area, was arrested and charged with three offences.

Essex Police continued their investigation and a three further girls came forward to report he had sexually assaulted them too.

In total, he was charged with eight counts of rape, nine counts of sexual assault, six counts of assault by penetration, two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Paffey, 38, denied all the charges and stood trial on October 26.

He was convicted by a jury on Thursday (November 12) and was jailed yesterday for 16 years and given a four year extended licence. He will have to serve at least two-thirds of his sentence in jail before being eligible to request parole.

He was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

In a statement to the court, the guardian of one of the victims said: “My sadness for all the girls is around how they have lost their chance at a normal childhood because of what he has done.

“The innocence of childhood has been taken away from them by his actions and can never be recovered. They have not had the opportunity to grow up like regular children.”

Detective Inspector Lisa Norcott said: “Paffey is a dangerous offender who committed the most horrific of crimes against four young girls.

“They have shown immense bravery by having the courage to tell us what happened so we could make sure he was brought to justice, and seeing the case through to trial.

“Paffey could have pleaded guilty. Instead, he subjected them to not only the most horrendous crimes but also to recounting what happened to them in court.

“However his attempts to prolong justice failed.

“I would like to thank the victims’ families for the immense support they have given them and the bravery and respect that they showed in court.

“Lastly I would like to thank DC Rachel Evemy and investigating officer Lisa Berrett-West, who have worked tirelessly on this distressing case to ensure that Paffey faced the consequences of the heinous crimes that he committed.”