A BLACKBURN man who is alleged to have groomed two girls, and abused them over a 15-year-period, has gone on trial at Preston Crown Court.

Raymond Cotton, 55, is said to have begun abusing one of his alleged victims while acting as her babysitter, the court heard.

Prosecutors say the abuse began when the girl was aged six, or seven, in the mid-1970s.

Cotton is accused of sitting the young girl on his knee, while babysitting, and then groping her.

Later, when the girl was aged just eight, he is said to have plied her with presents and cigarettes.

The second girl alleges that he raped her shortly after her 16th birthday.

He is said to have given her cigarettes, and then began touching her, the court was told.

She has insisted that she told him ‘no’, but he went on to have full sex with her.

Questioned by detectives, he denied any sexual impropriety involving either of the girls, who are now women in their 40s.

He claimed that the pair of them had got together to make claims against him in a bid for compensation payouts.

Cotton, of Heys Lane, Blackburn, denies 14 offences, including charges of rape and indecent assault involving the first girl, and charges of indecent assault, gross indecency with a child, and rape involving the second girl.

The trial continues.