A ‘PREDATORY’ sex pest who targeted a string of teenage girls over 12 years has walked free from court.

Mark Ellis, 43, a married father-of-two, fondled and tried to kiss his victims.

One of the girls had had to fend him off after he waited for her and tried to pull her into a bedroom.

Another was left shocked and frightened after he groped her in a pub.

Ellis had sent the girl a text, saying: “I wish I was in bed with you”, Burnley Crown Court heard. Ellis sexually assaulted four victims, aged from 15 to 19, between 1997 and 2009, when he was between 27 and 40-years-old. He was arrested last August.

The defendant, of Yorkshire Close, Buckshaw Village, Chorley, admitted three counts of indecent assault and seven allegations of sexual assault.

He was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision. Ellis was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and was banned from working with children indefinitely. Ellis was arrested on August 10, last year.

The prosecutor said: “He was interviewed at some length. While he accepted some of his behaviour, he didn’t accept the full extent and explained some aspects of his behaviour as being simply a misunderstanding.” The defendant had no previous convictions.

For Ellis, Andrew Nuttall said he was hard-working, had a good job and would lose his employment and home if he was jailed.

Mr Nuttall said: “He seems to have grown, with age, somewhat wiser and he seems to have stopped this not just inappropriate, but criminal behaviour. On the face of it, he doesn’t really pose a risk anymore at all."

He said Ellis’s wife had stood by him and believed in him, but it had been a terrible shock. Judge Andrew Woolman told the defendant: “Your behaviour over these years was disgusting and predatory. There was a degree of danger to any teenage girl that came into your space. “