A RAPIST described as a “dangerous sexual predator who targeted young girls” has been jailed for 18-years.

Lewes Harby admitted to raping two girls under 15, sexually assaulting three other girls and meeting a 15-year-old for sex after grooming her.

The nine counts of sexual offences against the six girls from Brighton, Lancing and Newhaven, occurred at addresses in Brighton and Newhaven between 2015 and 2017.

He was sentenced to 18 years at Hove Crown Court on Thursday.

Detective constable Rich Valder-Davis of Brighton Safeguarding Investigations unit described Harby as predator who preyed on young girls.

He said: “A dangerous sexual predator who targeted young girls has now been safely removed from the streets .

"Harby got to know his victims all of whom were younger than him, supplying them with mobile phones and giving them alcohol. As well as assaulting them, he sent some of them indecent photos of himself via the social media app Snapchat.

"We hope this will act as a re-assurance for any other young girls who have found themselves in the same distressing situations, and their families, that they can contact us in confidence at any time and arrange to talk in confidence to experienced investigators."

Unemployed Harby raped a girl aged 12 four times, raped a girl aged 13, sexually assaulted a girl aged 13, sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl, met a 15-year-old girl for sex after grooming, sexually assaulted another girl aged 15.

Harby of Railway Road, Newhaven, will serve an initial 12 years in prison and will also serve a further six-year period on extended prison release license supervision.

He will be a registered sex offender for life and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court order severely restricting his contact with young girls.

In sentencing, Judge Janet Waddicor, said Harby had exploited his friendship with the victims, targeting them in an manipulative, cold and predatory manner.

An NSPCC spokeswoman said: “Harby’s young victims have shown tremendous courage in coming forward and speaking out about their horrific ordeals.

“He purposefully used the anonymity of an online platform to carry out this abuse and we hope his victims are receiving all necessary support to overcome what happened to them.

“This case shows just how vital it is for parents and others talk to children about how to stay safe online.”

If you have information about sexual offence against young girls you can call 101 quoting Operation Meridian.