A boy who raped two children aged just six and eight was sent to prison yesterday (Wednesday).

The schoolboy, who was 13-years-old at the time and is now 18, sought out the innocent girl and boy and raped them while playing a ‘murder in the dark’ game.

A district judge said the oral rape and sexual abuse went on for up to nine months and added that it happened on a minimum of 14 occasions in North Devon between September 2013 and May 2014.

But Exeter Youth Court heard the eight-year-old male victim said it had happened ‘about 50 times’.

The defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted raping a boy under 13, raping a girl under 13, two counts of assaulting a boy and a girl under 13 by touching and two charges of inciting the boy to engage in sexual activity.

District Judge Diana Baker said rejected that this was ‘sexual experimentation’ or that it was a ‘one off’ type of offending.

She told the teenage defendant: “There is no doubt your offending has caused the most serious damage and potentially life long impact on the two children.”

Judge Baker said there was ‘an element of manipulation’ as the older boy abused the much younger children while playing games.

She said the youth did not accept that he told the victims not to tell their family what he was doing – but the victims did not say what had happened for several years because they feared they would get into trouble, the court was told.

She said the teenager had no previous convictions and had not re-offended in the last five years and said being a youth sent to an adult jail would be ‘extremely difficult’ for him.

She gave him a two year detention and training order - he will serve half in an adult jail before being released under supervision - and made a life time restraining order banning him from ever contacting the two victims.

Prosecutor Fiona Elder said the true scale of the abuse only came out when the boy victim had sex education lessons at school and told his parents that this is what the defendant had been doing to the girl.

Defence barrister Mary Aspinall-Miles said there was no suggestion he was attracted to children and did not fantasise about the offences.

The defendant said: “I am sorry for the victims and everyone who has been affected.”

Speaking after the hearing, nn NSPCC South West spokesman said: “Sexual abuse ruins childhoods and the victims in this case will need appropriate support to overcome the trauma they have been put through.

“At the time of these awful crimes the offender was himself a child and we know that a third of all child sexual offences are committed by children.

“The NSPCC’s innovative Turn the Page service works with young children who exhibit all forms of harmful sexual behaviour and aims to prevent any repeat of those actions.”

Any young person can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or childline.org.uk. Adults concerned about a child’s safety can contact the NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 or nspcc.org.uk.

Both services are free, confidential, and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.