A 'MANIPULATIVE' carer allegedly sexually abused teenage girls while working at three East Lancashire children's homes, a jury heard.

Kevin Downes, 27, is accused of having repeated sex with two and threatening to kill one if she told anybody.

He was said to have had sex with one of the three girls about 50 times over two years, starting when she was 13, each time when he was the only staff member on duty.

Downes, from Rossendale, denies a total of 15 allegations.

Burnley Crown Court was told how when police spoke to the alleged victim, she gave them details of a number of tattoos on his body, including words from his wedding vows written across his chest, his son's name and date of birth, a girl's name in Chinese on his right arm and the name of his ex-wife, which he had covered up.

Amanda Johnson, for the Crown, told the court: "The prosecution say the reason she knew all that was because she had seen him naked."

The court heard how the third girl, who said Downes was one of only two people who really understood her, claimed she fell in love with him. She lied to the police about what had gone on to protect him, as he had children and she didn't want him to get into trouble, but then revealed the truth to her teacher.

The girl, who repeatedly performed a sex act on the defendant, was to later tell police he tried to have sex with her, couldn't, persisted, but eventually gave up.

She said the evening before he was suspended from work, Downes told her he was too old for her. Miss Johnson said: "He told her she was a pretty girl and she could have any man she wanted."

Downes, of Prospect Terrace, Stacksteads, denies six charges of sexual activity with a child against the first girl, two allegations of sexual activity with a child by a person in a position of trust against the second alleged victim and five counts of sexual activity with a child and two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity against the third girl.

Miss Johnson told the jury there was no doubt each of the girls had, at times, displayed challenging and disruptive behaviour.

She said: "The prosecution case is that all three are telling the truth about what happened. There is no evidence, the prosecution say, of any collusion between any of them.

"These girls were easy targets for somebody who held a position of authority over them to manipulate and take advantage of and that's precisely what the defendant did. "He abused his position of trust with all three."

Miss Johnson said the first girl, now 17, kept silent for so long because the defendant had insisted she must not say anything, threatening to kill her if she did.

Last February, she disclosed she had been abused by Downes between the ages of 13 and 15. She was interviewed by specially trained police and told them sex happened the first time in her room after the defendant knocked on the door. She let him in and without a word, he started to kiss her. He began to touch her, removed her clothing and his and they had sex on the bed. He then got dressed and left, leaving her feeling disgusting and used by him.

The first time they spoke about it, they were outside the house and she said: "It's not good." Downes then allegedly pinned her against a wall and threatened to kill her if she told anybody.

The girl didn't know what to do and after that had sex with Downes twice in her bedroom and also in the staff office and the staff bedrooms.

Miss Johnson said the second girl, now 20, was interviewed by police last August. She told them he had collected her after she had been out, they exchanged banter in his car and the defendant 'touched her bum' in the kitchen at the home and then kissed her on the mouth. She claimed he brought beer to her room in the evening and they would have sex. The prosecutor said: "She had his mobile phone number and he told her if she had been older he would have been with her. He told her he didn't want her to tell anybody and she agreed to that."

As the girl got older, she began to wonder if the defendant was a risk to other girls and decided to tell her children's rights officer on August 5, last year.

Miss Johnson said the third girl was now 16 and was first interviewed by the police on March 1, last year. She told officers she had been able to confide in Downes and tell him about her problems. The complainant denied having a sexual relationship with him. However, she was spoken to again on March 27 and gave a different account, saying she had lied because she didn't want the defendant to get in trouble as she knew he had children.

The prosecutor said the defendant was arrested at home and interviewed on March 1, last year. He was interviewed in March, April and August and denied there had been any sexual contact with any of the complainants.