A SEXUAL predator who began preying on younger children while still a teenager himself has been jailed for three years.

Curtis Lee Ferguson, 22, was 16 when he abused a 13-year-old boy in December 2007. And he assaulted the same boy again three years later, Winchester Crown Court heard on Thursday.

Ferguson was found guilty of two counts of sexual activity with a male under the age of 16 and five counts of inciting a male under 16 to engage in sexual activity.

And the court was told he was convicted of two similar counts in 2009 involving an eight-year-old girl.

Judge Guy Boney said: “Between the ages of 16 and 19 you have a disturbing record of practising your own obviously strong sexual urges above the interests of younger and vulnerable people of both genders and, I have to say, showing a degree of planning and manipulation.”

A probation officer’s report read out to the court described Ferguson as “a manipulative young man who has the ability to target and groom vulnerable victims for his own sexual gratification” and said that his “level of denial is a concern”.

Sentencing, Judge Boney said: “It is extremely difficult for probation to suggest any way you can be helped.

“I have to make the protection of the public my priority and you present a high risk,” he added. DC Darren Ambrose of Wiltshire Police said: “The sentence today was the result of the victim in this case having the bravery to come forward and I would like to commend him.

“Ferguson has never accepted responsibility for his actions and we hope the punishment he has received today will give him the opportunity to realise the gravity of his offences. We hope that this case will give other victims of sexual abuse the confidence to come forward and understanding that we take all reports very seriously and will fully investigate.”

Ferguson, originally from Warminster but most recently from no fixed address in Salisbury, was also made subject to a sexual offences prevention order for five years and ordered to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.