A BOY aged ten raped a six-year-old girl as they played hide-and-seek.

The victim was praised for her bravery in reporting Thomas Walker, now 21, of Orkney Court, Worthing, who continued to sexually abuse her over a period of years.

Walker was found guilty at Hove Crown Court on Friday of five sexual offences against the girl.

The court was told he had raped the girl in 2003 after she had gone to hide while playing the children’s game at a house in Worthing.

She also claimed to have been raped by another boy during the incident.

The victim, whose identity is protected by law but is not his relative, said she was then sexually abused by Walker on separate occasions over about five or six years, although she could not remember them all. She said she was also abused by other boys.

The victim started to realise what was happening was wrong after getting sexual education lessons at school.

She eventually told her mother in 2012, and was “angry” for not having told anyone about it before.

Prosecuting, Kris Berlevy said of the victim: “She had the courage – because that is what it must have been – she had the courage to say the truth and then come here and say it again.”

But Walker claimed none of it had happened at all, and the victim faced allegations in court that she was making it all up.

Geoffrey Lamb defending Walker said: “It is the easiest thing in the world to make an allegation of crime.”

He continued: “Not once did one of her friends or family realise or notice it or discover it.

“She did not throughout that period of time contract a sexually transmitted disease or become pregnant or anything like that.”

However a jury took less than four hours to convict Walker of one count of rape, in 2003; one of indecent assault, also in 2003; and in 2004, two counts of sexual assault of a child under 13 and one of inciting or encouraging a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.

Walker has been bailed ahead of his sentencing at Hove Crown Court on August 29.