A “dangerous paedophile” from Bury who repeatedly abused two young girls has been jailed.

John Mills was aided in his sickening conduct by partner Tiffany Eccles, who would take part in sexual activity with him in order to urge his victims to copy her.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard the crimes came to light when a young girl told her mother what had happened.

It emerged Mills had targeted her weekly when she was between the ages of eight and 12.

She told police he repeatedly raped her but managed to convince her he was a nice person.

On occasions his partner Eccles was present and one time Mills got them both naked and urged them to touch each other.

After the girl reported the matter to the police it emerged Mills had targeted another girl, who was aged three when the conduct began.

He would get her to perform sexual activities on him.

The girl recalled how Eccles would take off her clothes off and urged her to follow before going on to perform sexual activities with Mills.

Mills, 38, appeared in court to be sentenced after admitting multiple counts of rape of a child under 13, sexual assault, causing a child to engage in sexual activity and performing sexual activity in front of a child.

Eccles, 27, admitted multiple counts of inciting a child to perform sexual activity and performing sexual activity in front of a child.

Jon Close, prosecuting, read victim personal statements from both victims.

The one from the first complainant said she had resorted to binge eating and added: “They pleaded guilty to these offences, I feel they only did this for themselves not because they show remorse.”

The one from the second complainant said: “Reporting you to the police is my payback.

“I physically hurt myself, I self harmed before reporting to the police.

“I tried to take my own life four times.”

Defending Mills, from Rochdale Road, Bury, Gwen Henshaw said he was remorseful and read a brief letter from him.

It said: “I know I have caused a great deal of trauma and pain to so many people.

“I did not think about the effect of my actions.”

Defending Eccles, from Moss Row, Bury, Anna Chestnutt said it was accepted the offending had only ever been started by Mills and she had no previous convictions.

Imposing a sentence, judge Bernadette Baxter said to Mills: “This case demonstrates you are a dangerous paedophile who identifies vulnerable children and young adults and manipulates them for your sexual gratification.

“You are always on the look out for sexual activity and have no internal controls to control your urges against children.”

She ruled that in view of the rapes Mills was a dangerous offender.

She jailed him for 19 years and two months, of which he must serve at least 12 years and eight months before he can be considered eligible for parole which will have an extended period on licence of two years.

The judge jailed Eccles for a period of seven months, of which she will serve two thirds of in prison.

She also made the pair subject to a sexual harm prevention order, the sex offenders’ register and applied a restraining order against the victims, all of which will run indefinitely.

Detective Constable Nichola McGregor, from GMP (Greater Manchester Police's) Bury district’s newly-formed Child Protection Investigation Unit, said: "I would first and foremost like to thank the two young victims that bravely came forward to speak to the police - without their support, John Mills and Tiffany Eccles would more than likely have continued to commit offences.

“Their courage has helped secure lengthy prison terms for both offenders, ensuring they are no longer out in the community engaging in their predatory actions.

“The two girls have endured repeated sexual abuse, the like of which nobody should have to endure, but - despite their young age - their tenacity and resilience throughout the investigation and court process has been astounding; they truly are a credit to themselves.

“Mills and Eccles jointly and systematically sexually abused these two children over numerous years and in multiple locations.

"They took advantage of their vulnerability; they groomed them, trying to convince them that the depraved acts they were engaging in were normal behaviours.

“Their sentencing will hopefully bring some closure to their two survivors who have spoken to us and send out the message to anyone that behaves in this way that GMP will do everything we can to bring paedophiles like Mills and Eccles to justice.

“We take this kind of report extremely serious. I would encourage anybody who feels they have been the victim of offences such as above to get in touch with the police.”

Anyone with information or concerns about someone being sexually abused is encouraged to contact us online via our LiveChat facility, if able, or by calling 101.

Details can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Greater Manchester is nationally recognised as a model of good practice in terms of support services available to victims.

If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, we encourage you not to suffer in silence and report it to the police, or a support agency so you can get the help and support available.

- Saint Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Manchester provides a comprehensive and co-ordinated response to men, women and children who live or have been sexually assaulted within Greater Manchester. They offer forensic medical examinations, practical and emotional support as well as a counselling service for all ages. Services are available on a 24-hour basis and can be accessed by calling 0161 276 6515.

- Greater Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential information, support and counselling service run by women for women over 18 who have been raped or sexually abused at any time in their lives. Call on 0161 273 4500 or email help@manchesterrapecrisis.co.uk

- Survivors Manchester provides specialist trauma informed support to boys and men in Greater Manchester who have experienced sexual abuse, rape or sexual exploitation. Call 0161 236 2182.