A PERVERTED babysitter has been jailed for more than 20 years after he sexually abused vulnerable children in his care.

Robin James Elms, 23, targeted a child with special needs during a campaign of abuse in private homes where he worked as a freelance nanny and babysitter.

He picked on children he thought were too young to speak up or who had learning difficulties and autism, grooming entire families in order to commit his abuse.

The trainee teacher pleaded guilty to 20 offences including ten counts of sexual assault, five counts of taking indecent videos of children and four counts of voyeurism against nine children aged between two and 14 between 2018 and 2020.

He also admitted one sexual assault on an adult man in West Sussex.

Police said Elms worked in other non-residential child care settings, but said there is no evidence at all of his offending against any other children..

Elms got bookings as a nanny through online child care agencies.

He also worked in other non-residential child care jobs including nurseries.

Elms, of Hunston, near Chichester, abused seven children at three different households in West Sussex.

Two more children were from two households in East Kent.

Sentencing Elms at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Lance Ashworth told him: "You groomed the families, moving from home to home, beguiling them and making them feel sorry for you."

Judge Ashworth emphasised the families had done nothing wrong.

Detective Constable Chris Smith of Sussex Police said: "Elms used his access, and the trust placed in him by the parents, to systematically abuse children in their own homes.

"His offences were horrendous breaches of trust, which are every parent's greatest concern.

The Argus:

"He had no previous convictions or any other DBS-related record, and the parents all had found him through reputable child care agencies."

Elms' victims and their families are receiving specialist support, the force said.

"Police worked closely with local authorities to help ensure that no other children were at risk," a spokesman added.

Five of the children in West Sussex were victims of contact offending, and two were victims of voyeurism.

One of the children in Kent was a victim of contact offending and one was victim of voyeurism.

Elms also pleaded not guilty to two offences of taking indecent images of children relating to another boy, and to one sexual assault on a girl in relation to whom he had already pleaded guilty to a separate sexual assault.

They were left on file.

Elms was sentenced to 15 and a half years in prison with a five year extended prison licence.

He will be a registered sex offender for life and was given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court notice, severely restricting his access to children and digital devices.

Anyone who has suspicions about offences against children can contact the police at any time either online at https://www.sussex.police.uk/contact/af/contact-us/ or by calling 101, and can arrange to talk to experienced investigators.

You can also find more advice and guidance on how to spot signs that children are at risk on the Sussex Police website - https://www.sussex.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/caa/child-abuse/advice-for-parents-and-guardians/