AN elderly pervert groomed and sexually abused a vulnerable child before introducing the victim to another paedophile who also abused her.

Grandfather Andrew Davies, 55, of Duke Street, Taunton, who won the 14-year-old's trust through "drinks, cigarettes, money, kindness and attention", was jailed for seven years after being found guilty of four charges at Taunton Crown Court.

His co-abuser Colin Pearce, 72, of Calway Road, Taunton, was sent down for four years for three counts, which were considered less serious as the judge concluded he had been "led on" by Davies.

They were both told during sentencing today (Friday) they would have had longer sentences but for their age and faltering health.

The court heard that the victim, who was a girl at the time but has since declared himself transgender, got to know Davies through his daughter.

Mr Recorder Jonathan Barnes told Davies: "You set about grooming him with a view to abusing him sexually between the ages of 14 and 15 until he moved away from Taunton.

"The harm you did to the victim was as a result of this grooming and behaviour and he remained your sexual plaything when he came back to Taunton between the ages of 16 and 18."

The judge said Pearce's offending took place after Davies introduced him to the victim and was "much less serious".

He told Pearce: "But I'm quite sure that you too groomed the victim by bribing him with cigarettes and money and allowing him to use your computer and showing him kindness and attention.

"When you gained his trust, you abused him sexually."

The judge read a personal statement from the victim, who said the abuse had left him "disgusted" and "traumatised".

It said: "It has such a negative impact on so many areas of my life.

"I was very vulnerable...and they took advantage."

The victim turned to drugs and alcohol, which created further "negative consequences" and he has more than 100 scars on his body from self-harming.

Earlier Nikki Coombe, prosecuting, said aggravating factors included the age disparity of the abusers and their victim, who was "a vulnerable child".

Rebecca Bradberry, defending Davies, said he was hard working and had even completed a night shift hours ahead of his sentencing.

Pearce's lawyer Patrick Mason said his client had led "a relatively unblemished life", adding: "The extent to which he groomed the victim is questionable as there was a high degree of voluntary attendance at the property."

Davies was jailed for seven years for sexual activity with a child, four years (concurrent) on two separate charges of sexual activity with a child and four years (concurrent) for causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Pearce received four years for causing a child to engage in sexual activity, three years (concurrent) for a similar offence and three years (concurrent) for sexual activity with a child.