A SERIAL child sex offender has been jailed for 12 years for a string of sexual offences, some of which dated back to the 1980s.

Simon Payne, 43, of Bell Dean Road, Allerton, Bradford, was told he had a "dark side" as he was jailed for offences against three young victims which spanned around 20 years.

And the police have now praised the bravery of the victims in coming forward so many years on.

Bradford Crown Court heard Payne had committed a string of sexual offences against a young girl when she was aged seven, eight or nine, and he was aged around 16 to 19.

When he was aged around 18, he committed two sexual offences against an 11-year-old boy.

And then, around seven or eight years ago, he sexually abused a girl over a period of around two years, starting when she was 13 and ending when she was 15.

Two of the victims wrote statements explaining the damage Payne's offending had done to their lives, which prosecutor Kitty Taylor handed to Judge Roger Thomas QC.

Mitigating for Payne, Stephen Wood said he had no previous convictions.

He said: "In his position, the fact of the custodial sentence, that's the real punishment, not the length."

Sentencing, Judge Thomas told Payne: "After a difficult educational start in life, you had done quite well in terms of employment and other aspects of your life, but there was a dark side to you that is demonstrated by this indictment."

Judge Thomas said the victims' statements had been "insightful and really quite moving" and showed the harm this kind of offending did to victims.

He said: "That aspect of this cannot be underestimated - the lasting damage this does do to the unfortunate people to which it happens."

He jailed Payne for 12 years for a total of 10 offences, many of which had been specimen charges used as examples of a string of offending.

Afterwards, Detective Constable Emma Dawson, of Bradford District Safeguarding Unit, said: "Payne took advantage of his victims' young ages and vulnerability to carry out these attacks over a period of time.

"We would like to thank them for their courage in coming forward and reporting these offences, and hope that today's sentence will help to give them some closure.

"We also hope it will encourage other victims to come forward and speak to our specially trained officers, who will investigate all reports of sexual abuse thoroughly and sensitively, no matter how historic, with the intention of bringing the offenders to justice."

He must now also sign on the sex offenders' register for life.