A paedophile warned a girl 'don't tell anyone' before going on to also carry out sickening abuse on her friend too.

Stephen Lewis carried out vile acts on two young girls, forcing one of them to perform sex acts on him.

After discovering they had both been subject to abuse the girls wrote to Jackie magazine to ask for advice.

But when one of their parents discovered the letter they accused the girls of lying and the abuse went unreported for decades, in which a judge said the 59-year-old had been "living a lie".

David Watson, prosecuting at Liverpool Crown Court, explained that the offences came to light after one victim disclosed the sickening abuse she had suffered in a phone call to police in February 2019.

Mr Watson said as a child she was repeatedly forced to perform sex acts on Lewis.

Lewis also warned the girl "don't tell anyone" and out of fear she didn't disclose what had happened.

It was only when she discovered her friend had also been subjected to abuse at Lewis' hands that the two girls "acted together" and "wrote to Jackie disclosing the abuse".

One of the children's parents then discovered the letter and confronted the children who explained that they had been the victims of abuse.

Mr Watson said: "Unfortunately they accused both complainants of lying."

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Neither police nor social services were informed of the allegations at the time, the court heard.

In a statement read aloud in court, one of the victims said she had attempted to take her own life as a result of the abuse she suffered.

She said: "The abuse I suffered as a child affected every aspect of my adult life.

"It's very difficult to put into words how this has impacted me."

The woman said that she "constantly questions who I am" and asks herself "would I have done anything differently".

She also recalled looking at her own daughter and "realising I was being abused at that same age".

The court heard she had suffered depression and panic attacks which "led to a suicide attempt driven by everything coming to a head".

Lewis' second victim said: "I find myself asking why this happened to me."

She added she "dressed plainly" and said "all I can think is how dirty and soiled he made me feel".

Lewis, who the ECHO is unable to provide a picture of because no mugshot was taken when he voluntarily attended for a police interview, has no previous convictions.

John Weate, defending, explained the sentencing powers available to the court for these offences are "substantially less" than if they had been committed today, with the "maximum penalties five times less than the maximum penalties available today".

He said Lewis had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and is "under no illusion" as to the court's powers.

Mr Weate added that when confronted by police Lewis made "a number of admissions" and sought in no way to "challenge the allegations".

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He explained Lewis has not been convicted "during the course of his lifetime" following these offences and is not otherwise known to the courts.

Lewis, of Woodchurch Road, Prenton, admitted six counts of indecent assault and two counts of indecency with a child.

The judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said: "For the best part of over four decades you had been living a lie."

Recorder Unsworth told Lewis he "fell foul to your most base and predatory instincts" when he "abused her for your own sexual gratification".

The judge said there had been a "significant" impact on his victims one of whom "even tried to take her own life because of you".

Recorder Unsworth added: "It has impacted every aspect of her life. She wonders what else might have been for her in life.

"She has been living in a nightmare and it's all your fault Mr Lewis."

The judge explained that sentencing was "seriously hampered by the fact the sentencing powers at the time of this offence" were "very different to the sentences that can be imposed today".

Recorder Unsworth said: "Your victims should know that these sentences in no way reflect the gravity of your offending."

Lewis was jailed for four years.

A restraining order preventing Lewis from contacting his victims was also imposed.