A "VILE and dangerous" paedophile who abused four young girls has been put behind bars.

Jessica Brennan, who was Allan Brennan at the time of the crimes, has been jailed for 22 years for preyed on her young victims between 1998 and 2016 when they were school-aged children.

The victims came forward to speak to the police and support the investigation that was driven by North Yorkshire Police’s CID.

Brennan, 54, was questioned by detectives but denied any knowledge of the offences, putting the victims through the ordeal of a trial.

The jury found her guilty of a number of sexual assaults.

Brennan was handed a 22 year custodial sentence at York Crown Court after being convicted of attempted rape of a child under 13; assault of a girl under 13 by penetration; five counts of sexual activity with a child; assault by penetration; two counts of sexual assault; sexual activity with a child; and five counts of indecent assault.

Brennan of Bowland Close, Harrogate, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life and handed an indefinite Sexual Harm Protection Order, which will place strict restrictions on her when she is released from prison.

The judge also imposed a four-year extended period on prison licence upon Brennan’s eventual release from jail.

The court heard how one of the victims was left feeling “ashamed and guilty” about the abuse she’d suffered and how she felt that it was in some way her fault, and that she was to blame.

Another victim described losing her self-esteem and her self-worth and explained how she felt guilty and found it hard to trust people. “I feel worthless” she said.

The court heard from another victim who said that she now suffered with anxiety attacks and wanted the memories of what had happened to her to “simply vanish”. She added that she felt like they never would as she has been left with “mental scars” from what Brennan did to her.

Another victim spoke of her “pain and suffering over the last 21 years” and said “I’m constantly haunted by what happened to me.”

Detective Constable Rebecca Prentice of North Yorkshire Police’s Harrogate & Craven CID said: “The victims in this case, and their families, have had their lives shattered by this vile and dangerous paedophile.

“But they have shown incredible bravery coming forward, some after 20 years, and their courage has ensured that Brennan has been put behind bars where she belongs for a very long time.

“I hope that they can now begin to rebuild their lives with the knowledge that justice has been done.

“It’s never too late to report sexual abuse and if you have been a victim there are various ways you can report to police.

“You can call non-emergency number 101, go to a police station or speak a support agency or charity listed on our website if you do not wish to speak to us. Always call 999 in an emergency.”