LAW lords have increased the jail sentence for a Blackburn man who groomed and sexually abused a teenage girl after ruling it was too low.

David Rawcliffe, 29, was jailed for 28 months last February after Preston Crown Court heard how he molested her between the ages of 13 and 15.

Judge Mark Brown, Recorder of Preston, also ordered Rawcliffe to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years after he pleaded guilty to eight offences of sexual activity with a girl aged under 16 and one charge of engaging in sexual activity while in the presence of a child.

But the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox QC, referred the case to the Court of Appeal, on the grounds it was too lenient.

Appeal court judges agreed with Mr Cox and increased the jail term to three years and four months for Rawcliffe, of Stonyhurst Road, Bank Top.

Speaking after the case, the Attorney General said: "The offender's actions have had a severe impact on the victim and I feel the increased sentence more accurately reflects this."

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Barbara Webster said the defendant had also touched the girl inappropriately on several occasions during 2018.

The final instance had led her to tell her mother and the matter was reported to the police, the court heard.

The ordeal had left the girl suffering from severe emotional distress and affected her education and relationship with her friends, the court was told.

Rawcliffe was said to have a low IQ and suffered from psychological issues which had left him mentally vulnerable

Huw Edwards, defending, said: “While his actions are abhorrent and have caused no end of damage to the complainant, he has accepted what he has done is wrong

Sentencing Rawcliffe, Judge Brown said: "“It's clear to me that your grooming behaviour developed and was continuing to develop.

"It doesn't take much imagination to think what might have happened next if she hadn't told someone.

"It's evident from the victim's personal statement that your actions have had significant impact on her.

"She has described how her appetite, sleep and confidence have all been affected, and how she's scared of older men."

The judge also imposed a sexual harm prevention order on Rawcliffe.