A SOUTHAMPTON man with an “unhealthy interest in children” abused a young girl and took crude photos of her.

Paul Barnes, 46, admitted four counts of sexual assault, which defence barrister Richard Martin described as “terrible and unforgivable”.

“He knows she has suffered immeasurably,” Mr Martin told Southampton Crown Court. “He accepts he has this unhealthy interest and it must be addressed.”

His offences were discovered when the victim told social services and they called in the police.

Prosecutor Anthony Bailey said Barnes, of Honeysuckle Road, Bassett, gave a “no comment”

interview to police when arrested, but was later overheard by a custody officer saying: “I am here for touching a child. I cannot believe I did that.”

When quizzed again, he admitted what he had done.

Jailing him for five years, Judge Peter Ralls QC told Barnes: “What you did has had a considerable impact on her life. There was persistent misconduct and you should have realised the victim would have been upset by your behaviour. You should have known better.”