A 21-YEAR-OLD Taunton “predator” who groomed and sexually abused a 10-year-old boy has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Benjamin John Seldon, of Greenlands, admitted three counts of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13 and three counts of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child under 13.

Seldon was also sentenced for possession of indecent photos of a child.

Prosecuting, Tara Wolfe told the court heard that Seldon had bought a paddling pool which was put up on his driveway, and local children would come to play in it and also to sit in Seldon’s car.

Then, between July 1 and August 29 last year, Seldon performed a number of sexual acts on himself and a 10-year-old boy while in a car, Ms Wolfe said.

The court also heard that Seldon had threatened to kill his victim if they told anyone, to punch them in the face if they did not let him perform sexual acts on them, and that Seldon had previously hit the victim and shot them in the leg with a BB gun.

On August 30, 2015, the boy told his mum about the incidents and the police were informed immediately.

A victim statement from the 10-year-old's mother was read out to the court, which stated: "I never imagined he would be targeted by a predator, who has taken his childhood."

When Seldon was arrested his phone was seized and found to have 26 indecent images of children on it, the court heard.

Mitigating, Philip Mason said: “This young man was 20 or just 21 when these things happened. He is an unusual, immature, isolated young man not socialising with people his own age.

“My colleague suggests he is a predator and children are lured.

“It was a set of circumstances that came about, not set up by Seldon.”

After pleading guilty to the offences, Seldon told probation officers he had “blanked things out” and felt disgust and shame at what he had done, the court heard.

Sentencing, Judge David Ticehurst said: “You have clearly had difficulties in your life. I am in no doubt whatsoever that you know what you were doing was wrong.

“You have effectively taken away from him some years of his youth. He was 10 years old. He no doubt looked up to you and trusted you.

“There was an element of grooming. You provided sweets and let him sit in your car.”

On the three charges of sexually assaulting a child under 13, Seldon received three and a half years in prison.

On the three charges of sexual activity in the presence of a child under 13, Seldon was sentenced to 12 months There were also seven counts of possessing indecent images of children, for which he was given a range of eight to 12 months.

The sentences will be served concurrently, totalling three and a half years.

Seldon is also subject to a sexual harm prevention order and a restraining order.

As Judge Ticehurst summarised the sentence for Seldon, he added: “Stay away from little boys.”

After the sentencing, DC Claire Millington said: “We are pleased with the sentence handed out. This was one of several sexual offences committed against a 10-year-old boy from the Taunton area, as well as indecent images found on the defendant’s mobile phone.

“The offender befriended a child - who because of his age was vulnerable – and committed sexual acts against him, which have left a significant and lasting psychological impact on the victim.

“The sentence reflects the seriousness of this offence and the impact it had on the victim and his family.

“Benjamin Seldon is also now subject to a Serious Harm Prevention Order and a Restraining Order indefinitely, as well as being place on the Sex Offenders’ Register for an indefinite term.”