A married man who raped a little boy and girl when he was a teenager today blamed his absent parents.
Jason Downey molested three young children in Huyton in the 1980s, when he was aged 15.
Downey, of Trent Close, Rainhill, targeted two girls under the age of 10 and a boy, who was three or four when he raped him.
Liverpool Crown Court heard Downey, now 48, has since gone on to marry and have three children of his own.
His evil past remained a secret until last year, when one of the girls – now an adult – disclosed the abuse.
The first girl described how Downey rubbed himself against her, made her touch and masturbate him, and performed sex acts on her.
She told officers he went on to rape her and on another occasion tried to pull her knickers down.
John Wyn Williams, prosecuting, said she recalled Downey being "cruel" to her and remembered him destroying her teddy bear.
The second girl then spoke to police and revealed how Downey once rubbed her bottom.
The boy couldn't remember the exact date of his abuse, but recalled he was wearing red wellington boots.
Mr Wyn Williams said: "He specifically remembers the defendant stripping him naked and playing what he describes in his ABE [Achieving Best Evidence] as a 'man and woman game'."
Downey made the boy perform a sex act on him, then raped his "extremely vulnerable" victim.
When interviewed by police, he said he was sorry and agreed his crimes would have impacted on the victims.
Mr Wyn Williams said: "He said he didn't intend to hurt them and he 'couldn't help himself', as he put it."
Downey was initially charged with 12 counts of gross indecency with a child, but admitted only nine.
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After consulting with the victims, prosecutors agreed to drop the remaining counts, which will lie on the file.
Two of the counts of gross indecency would be classified as rapes under the law today.
Mr Wyn Williams said the court would have to consider the maximum sentence at the time, which was 10 years.
Crucially, Downey pleaded guilty on the basis he carried out all of the attacks before his 16th birthday.
This means his status as a 15-year-old at the time of the offences must also be taken into account in sentencing guidelines.
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He has previous convictions for obtaining property by deception, theft and possessing cannabis in 1990, but nothing for sexual offences.
The boy and first girl both described how Downey had ruined their lives, while the second girl said she was too embarrassed to discuss the impact of the abuse.
Cheryl Mottram, defending, said Downey was a boy, whose parents were seldom at home and often "down the local pub", who left him to raise himself.
Referring to a psychiatric report, she said her client "didn't have the emotional support in the family network that he should have had at that age".
Ms Mottram added: "It's very clear that for a young man of that age, experiencing hormones and experimental feelings if you like, that not having the support, the boundaries, the discipline that is required at that time, and leaving him in effect to his own devices, is fundamental as to why these offences took place."
However, she said Downey had pressed her to make clear that he "doesn't seek to make excuses for his behaviour" and hoped his guilty pleas showed this, which had spared his victims giving evidence.
Ms Mottram said her client couldn't explain why he did it, looking back as a hardworking married man, with children aged nine, 17 and 25.
All victims (and alleged victims) of sexual offences have a lifelong legal right to anonymity. As a result, the Echo cannot publish anything which is likely to identify a victim of a sexual offence.
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She said: "He very much had put these offences behind him – he had buried these offences somewhat."
The lawyer said Downey was "devastated" by the impact on his family and had moved in with his dad, after having to leave his home at the request of social services.
Ms Mottram said: "His children are innocents in all of this – in particular his nine-year-old daughter."
She added: "This happened at a time when Mr Downey was a very different man to the man he is now."
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Judge David Aubrey, QC, said he needed time to reflect on what was "a very difficult sentencing exercise".
He adjourned sentencing until next week and remanded Downey in custody.
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The judge said: "I want to reflect on this case. It's a very difficult sentencing exercise because the defendant was 15 years of age at the time and his emotional development was either reduced or lacking, and that is what I need to reflect upon, along with other matters."