A PAEDOPHILE who fled abroad while awaiting trial on a string of sex charges has been jailed for almost four years.

Frank Burgon was due to go on trial for the indecent assault and rape of a girl aged between ten and 13 on Monday (June 9).

He admitted three counts of indecent assault, dating back to the 1980s, hours before the trial was due to start at Teesside Crown Court.

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Other allegations of sexual offences against the 77-year-old, from Hartlepool, were ordered to lie on file.

Burgon’s trial was due to take place last March but he failed to turn up.

Having been on the run for more than a year, he was held in Gran Canaria in December, after a European arrest warrant was executed and brought back to the UK.

Burgon, who had a previous conviction and caution for child sex abuse, admitted failing to attend court and failing to comply with the notification requirements of a sexual offences prevention order.

Prosecutor Katherine Dunn said the notification offence arose when Burgon made trips to Turkey without notifying authorities.

On one occasion the former fisherman drove her to a secluded spot outside Hartlepool to carry out the abuse.

Ms Dunn said: “The victim did not tell anyone at the time, she did not really understand what was going on.

It was not until years later that she told her boyfriend and family before going to police.

Burgon was arrested in 2012 but denied sexually assaulting her – a pretence he maintained until shortly before his trial.

In 2010, he was jailed for 18 months and placed on the sex offenders register after a conviction for gross indecency with a 14-year-old boy.

Katy Rafter, mitigating, asked that Burgon be given credit for pleading guilty on the day of the trial, sparing the victim from having to give evidence.

Passing sentence, Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, told him: “You are a man with a history of preying on children.

“You preyed on a vulnerable young girl, and carried out a number of very serious offences against her.

“The fact that you failed to surrender for trial meant that she did not get justice.”

Burgon, of Dalton Piercy, near Hartlepool, was jailed for 37 months for two of the indecent assaults and 18 months for the third, to run concurrently.

The judge imposed a further two months for each of the failures to comply with the notification order and six months for the failure to surrender, to run consecutively, meaning a total of 47 months in jail, less 74 days spent on remand.

He will remain on the sex offenders register for life.