THE human resources manager of a Selkirk-based electricity network firm has been jailed for 26 years after being convicted of raping a child.

Evil Craig Knight preyed on a vulnerable schoolgirl when she was just 12-years-old.

Even after he'd been arrested last summer, the 31-year-old continued to target his young victim while on bail, committing a number of crimes against the girl, who is now 16, and a male friend of a similar age.

Knight worked for UK-wide company SPIE with HR responsibility for two south of Scotland offices - in Dumfries and Selkirk.

After joining SPIE at the start of 2016, he was a regular visitor to the Selkirk office to oversee recruitment and other personnel duties.

Police in Lancashire were first called to an address in Blackpool, where Knight was staying, last June following concerns about his welfare.

When they arrived they became concerned about the relationship between Knight and the 16-year-old girl who called him her boyfriend.

She later told police she had been sexually abused by Knight for several years.

Knight was arrested but just two days later, after being released on bail, he vandalised a car belonging to the friend of his victim by filling the exhaust with expanding foam and scratching the paint.

He returned the next day armed with a gas powered pistol, a bottle containing petrol, flame proof gloves and a knife.

He was intercepted by the teenager and his father before being able to cause any serious harm.

At a trial at Preston Crown Court last week, Knight was convicted of five counts of rape of a child under 13, three counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of affray, witness intimidation, possession of a knife, possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and two counts of theft.

He had already pleaded guilty to criminal damage before the trial.

Judge Sara Dodd ruled Knight was a dangerous offender and imposed an extended sentence for public protection.

She sentenced him to 17 years in jail, with a four year extended licence for the sexual offences against the girl and four years with an extra year on licence for the violent offences, to run consecutively.

She also made Knight the subject of a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order and put him on the Sex Offenders Register for life. Following sentencing Det Con Paul Moon, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: "This young woman was groomed by Knight for a number of years.

"Knight took advantage of her vulnerability and that of her family to put himself in a position of trust.

"He abused that trust and when he realised he was losing control of his victim, used threats of violence and weapons to intimidate her.

"This was a very frightening and traumatic experience for this young woman, who has had her teenage years taken from her by this dangerous and predatory individual.

"She has shown extraordinary courage in coming forwards to testify against Knight. I hope today's sentence brings some comfort and she is now able to start rebuilding her life."

According to Knight's Linkedin profile, he was an HR Business Partner with SPIE with expert knowledge in 'the Children’s Act, Education Act, Local Authority Social Services Act, Children and Families Act and Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act'.

SPIE moved into the Scottish Borders in 2013 when it took over Electricity Network Solutions.