A COWARDLY sex attacker offered to hand himself in to police - then refused to - when he was confronted by his victim.

Stephen Morgan, 56, initially asked the brave youngster if she would like him to go to a station to confess to his past crimes.

After being told to give himself up, the panicking pervert replied: "I can't go through with it - I'm too frightened to go to prison."

The schoolgirl went to the police herself and told officers of the years of abuse she had suffered at the hands of cruel Morgan.

Morgan, formerly from Whinneybanks, Middlesbrough, and now from Thornaby, Stockton, admitted three child sex charges.

At Teesside Crown Court today (Thursday), he was jailed for six years and was put on the sex offenders' register for the rest of his life.

Judge John Walford told him that he had left his victim traumatised and wrongly feeling she was to blame for the abuse.

Rachel Ryson said Morgan, of Firbeck Walk, Thornaby, who refused to answer police questions, deserved credit for admitting his crimes.

The judge told him: "Your guilty pleas at the first opportunity spared your victim the ordeal of reliving her experiences in court.

"It is to be hoped that with the outcome of the case today, she will be able to move on and, as best she can, recover from the effects of your behaviour on her."