A PERVERT who engaged in sexual activity with a child has been jailed for more than four years.

Terry Snowling abused the girl who was just 14, a court heard.

Over two months his behaviour towards her escalated from touching under her clothing to sexual activity.

Snowling told her not to tell anyone because no-one would believe her.

When he was confronted about his behaviour, Snowling replied: “I know, I’m an idiot.”

The incidents happened in the Colchester area and Snowling, 29, handed himself in at the town’s police station when it became clear the victim had spoken out.

He admitted seven counts of being aged over 18 and engaging in sexual activity with a child aged between 13 and 15.

Snowling appeared at Ipswich Crown Court for sentence on Friday and was jailed for four years and eight months.

Judge David Goodin said: “She was half your age and you knew it.

“It was a relationship you fostered and exploited.

“Whenever somebody is abused - and she was abused - it has a devastating impact.

“She will feel those effects one way or another for the rest of her life.”

The victim’s mother gave a statement saying her daughter’s self-esteem had been rocked and has lost her carefree persona.

Sasha Bailey, mitigating for Snowling, of no fixed address, had less maturity than others of his age.

She said: “There are no previous convictions and the remorse he shows is not simply for himself but the situation the victim finds herself in.

“He knows right from wrong and he knows he should not be acting in such a way to a child of this age.”

Snowling was given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order which limits the contact he will be able to have with female children.

He will also now be on the sex offenders’ register for life.