A SUPERMARKET worker who severely injured a two-year-old girl for his own sexual gratification has been given a 17-year extended prison sentence.

Stephen Wood, prosecuting, said the York toddler was in so much pain she had to be given morphine and had to undergo an emergency operation.

“It is hard to imagine a more serious case than this,” said Judge Andrew Stubbs QC as he sentenced Luke Jones, 24, for sexual assault at York Crown Court.

“You have pleaded guilty to an utterly appalling crime.”

He said doctors believe the child will make a full recovery.

“If there is any good news to come out of this case, it is that,” he said.

In a statement after the case, the mother said: “This has been a really traumatic time for my family but we would like to say a big thank you to the NHS and police force for their help and support during this time.”

The judge said she had had "no reason to suspect the demons" inside Jones when she left him to look after her child for a while.

Mr Wood said at 3.30pm on November 12, 2018, Jones rang 999 claiming the child had harmed herself.

The ambulance operator who took the call could hear the girl whimpering “mummy soon, mummy soon”.

“She must have been in agony and utterly terrified,” said Mr Wood.

Paramedics David Butterfield and Dean Roberts found the child standing in the bath, bleeding, naked, soaking wet, and cold. They comforted her, wrapped her in a blanket and prepared her for the ambulance journey to hospital.

The judge commended them for the way they had handled the “appalling situation” they were confronted with.

At York Hospital, doctors had the child transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital, where she underwent an operation shortly after midnight.

They also called in police, who arrested Jones.

“He was sitting on the ground in the foetal position. He told the officers he was expecting them,” said Mr Wood.

Jones, formerly of Warrington and Foxwood, pleaded guilty to sexual assault and was given a 17-year extended prison sentence of which five are an extended parole. For Jones, Graham Parkin said: “There are very, very few things I can say on behalf of this defendant.”

Jones will be on the sex offenders’ register for life and was given a lifelong sexual harm prevention order banning him from any contact with girls under 18, working or volunteering in schools and other organisations for children, and other restrictions.

A children's charity has urged all adults to make sure youngsters are safe.

“This is a truly horrific case and the pain and sexual violence inflicted on this very young child is unimaginable," said an NSPCC spokesman.

“Babies and young children are completely dependent upon the adults around them and to abuse the trust they have in us in such a vile manner is truly reprehensible.

“We all have a duty to look out for children’s welfare and anyone concerned about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 at any time, free of charge.

"If a child is in immediate danger, please call 999.”

The North Yorkshire detective who led the investigation into Jones, Det Con Matthew Brownridge said: “Luke Jones inflicted horrific injuries on his victim and put the victim’s family through hell whilst trying to cover up what he had done.

“I am very pleased that we have managed to get justice for the victim and their family and I would like to commend them all for the bravery they have shown throughout the investigation.

“There are no words that can make up for what they have been through and I hope the fact Luke Jones will now be behind bars will allow them some kind of peace in order to try and move forward.”

Children can ring Childline on 0800 1111.