AN ELDERLY Somerset man has been jailed for more than 13 years after being convicted of sexual offences against a child.

Stephen Merrett, 63, from Weston-super-Mare, was arrested in March following an investigation involving several police forces into a group of people creating and sharing indecent images of children online.

A warrant was executed at Merrett’s home and he was arrested.

As Avon and Somerset Police's investigation progressed, detectives identified a child who was being abused by Merrett and safeguarding measures were put in place.

Merrett admitted 12 counts of sexual offences, including rape, sexual assault and causing/inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, as well as six counts of making/distributing indecent images of children.

At Bristol Crown Court yesterday (Thursday), he was jailed for 13 years and four months and an extended licence period of six years and eight months. He will also be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

DS Matthew Shaw said: “Stephen Merrett is a dangerous and predatory man who’s been convicted of some truly abhorrent offences.

“The wider police investigation into the sharing and distributing of indecent images led to Merrett’s arrest and from this we were able to identify a young child he was abusing.

“Along with our partner agencies, we took immediate steps to protect the child from further harm.

"The victim and their family continue to be supported by trained professionals.

“This conviction shows the effectiveness of cross-border policing and is a testament to the hard work of the officers in the case, DC Kelly-Ann Holdsworth and DC Claire Millington.”