A MAN is beginning a 24 year jail sentence for raping and sexually abusing young girls.

Last month a jury at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court found Eric Thompson guilty of 15 offences committed over a period of more than 20 years.

Thompson, aged 61, of Tower Avenue, Ramsbottom, had denied three counts of raping girls, two of penetrative sex with a child, three counts of gross indecency with a child, two counts of sexual activity with a child and five offences of indecently assaulting a child.

But on August 2, following a two week trial, Thompson was convicted of all charges by a jury.

The case was adjourned until this week when Judge David Potter sentenced Thompson to 24 years in prison.