AN ambulance driver tried to 'groom' a young Burton girl by bombarding her with text messages, jurors heard.
In the space of six weeks, Jaimie Bent sent around 4,600 texts to the 12-year-old and met up with her several times in Shobnall Park.
Although he 'never laid a finger on her', the prosecution at Stafford Crown Court alleged Bent 'was hunting down his target with the deviousness and cunning patience of the predatory paedophile'.
The contact between the pair was discovered when the girl's mobile phone broke and her elder sister took it to be mended.
"When the sister switched it on she saw there were many, many messages from the defendant that were sexual in nature," claimed Nick Tatlow, prosecuting.
After Bent was arrested and bailed by the police, another girl came forward and said she had been molested by Bent.
She claimed he had groomed her since she was 12 and, when she was 13, went on to touch her inappropriately.
Bent, 49, of of Barton Marina, Barton under Needwood, denies three charges of sexual activity with the 13-year-old, one charge of grooming for sexual activity the 12-year-old and one charge of inciting the 12-year-old to sexual activity.
Mr Tatlow said: "There were literally thousands and thousands of text messages between the two in six weeks.
"Bent started texting her first thing in the morning and stopped last thing at night, when his work as an ambulance driver and her school commitments allowed.
"Their purpose, the prosecution say, was a sinister one – he was seeking to worm his way in to this girl's trust and gain her friendship.
"He would slip inappropriate messages in among the others – wanting to give her a hug, asking her what she wanted to do next time they met.
"He told her he loved her always and repeated it again and again.
"The conversation became more sexual in nature. He asked her to kiss him next time they met.
"He asked her to delete the messages – she didn't. He joked that his phone bill showed 4,600 messages, mostly to her," claimed Mr Tatlow.
"The defendant was quite deliberately setting out to groom this girl."