A SELF-confessed ‘monster’ was jailed for 12 years yesterday after being convicted of a string of historic sexual offences against four young girls.

Bolton Crown Court heard how former fairground worker Warren Kirkby committed the sickening crimes in the town over a period spanning nearly 30 years.

At an earlier hearing the 61-year-old, of Westleigh Lane, Leigh, had pleaded guilty to 12 counts of indecency with a child, eight counts of indecently assaulting a child and two counts of inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

Between 1977 and 2006 Kirkby conducted a campaign of perversion against the girls, some of whom were aged five and six at the time the abuse started.

Extracts from their victim impact statements read to the court by prosecutor Jane Dagnall laid bare the devastating effect Kirkby’s behaviour has had on their lives.

One of the victims told how the abuse had destroyed her life.

She said: “The mental and physical abuse has been a barrier on my life – I have to force myself to go out and socialise.

"I don’t want to do anything really.”

She added that she struggled to hold down a job and form relationships and described herself as a ‘girl that is just lost’.

“I don’t have regular jobs because I get too depressed and always have been," she said.

"My anxiety goes through the roof in big crowds.”

Nicola Gatto, defending, said Kirkby was genuinely remorseful for what he had done.

She said: “He has expressed some considerable remorse, which the author of the pre-sentence report suggests is genuine.

"Taking full responsibility for his behaviour, he doesn’t seek to pass blame in any way and accepts he has wronged them.”

She added that Kirkby had himself been a victim of abuse as a youngster and had told her: “It has turned me into a monster.”

Judge Timothy Stead said: "It is always very difficult to separate out the many life events and circumstances that bring about difficulties and unhappiness in an individual case, but I have no doubt that these complainants have suffered serious and lasting harm, psychologically, as a result of what the defendant has done to them over so many years.”

Following the court hearing detective constable Stuart Round, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Firstly I want to commend the victims’ bravery for supporting our investigations during what has been a difficult time.

"The effect this has had on them has been profound, but with their help we have been able to ensure Kirkby is behind bars and cannot prey on any more young girls.

“This has been a difficult and harrowing enquiry that has taken three years for justice to finally be found for these victims.

“Kirkby is a sexual predator who abused children for decades.

"This sentence reflects the fact that if you commit serious sexual offences time will not be a hiding place and eventually you will be caught.”