A “DISTURBED” former dance teacher and independent-school trainee is behind bars after being convicted of a series of “predatory” child sexual offences against two young girls in Bordon and Frensham, the youngest aged just 11.

Thomas Cox, 25, from Bordon, was jailed for seven years at Guildford Crown Court on September 17 after a jury found him guilty of preying on two girls aged between 11 and 16 between 2009 and 2015.

Cox denied his guilt throughout the police investigation into his crimes, forcing his victims to give evidence in court and be questioned about what had happened to them in front of a jury.

The offences occurred while Cox was working for a dance company run by his mother at an independent school near Farnham, neither of which can be named for legal reasons.

Cox was initially charged with 15 sexual offences against three girls. Three of these charges were later dropped, however, and he was found guilty of 12 counts.

These include nine counts of sexual activity with a child and three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. One of the victims was a student at his mother’s dance school while the other was a pupil at the independent school where Cox was employed as a graduate teacher trainee.

The father of one of Cox’s victims, who also can’t be named for legal reasons, told the Herald that Cox “abused his position” to take advantage of his child, accusing the school in question of being “very weak at safeguarding children”.

Speaking to the Herald, Cox’s mother said the case had “killed” her and her family’s lives, adding that she was forced to close down her successful dance school after more than 25 years in business.

She told the Herald she has lost friends as a result of her son’s crimes, some of whom she has known since she was five years old; has sold her house and intends to move away from the area, fearing the backlash against her family both in person and online.

Investigating officer Detective Constable David Jones said: “Thomas Cox is clearly a disturbed individual who used affection to gain the girls’ trust and then turned to emotional blackmail to try and ensure they didn’t tell anyone what was going on. He also displayed predatory behaviour by becoming upset and withdrawn when he did not get what he wanted.

“As soon as the victims in this case came forward, we took swift action to ensure that Cox didn’t present any further ongoing risks, including seizing his phone. Our priority was to safeguard the victims and to identify anyone else who may have been targeted."

Det Con Jones continued: “Mr Cox denied his guilt throughout the investigation which meant that the victims were made to stand in court and be questioned about what had happened to them in front of a jury and members of the public.

“Young girls in the community are now safer as a direct result of the strength and determination they showed in bringing Cox to justice.”

In addition to his seven-year sentence, Cox was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for an indefinite period and given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

Det Con Jones saidd: “I want to pay tribute to all the young women whose bravery in coming forward and giving evidence has ensured that Cox is now in prison where he belongs.

“We want to put more offenders like him behind bars - but we need people to come forward. We will always listen and take your allegations seriously.

“If you have been the victim of a sexual offence, or know someone who has, please report it to the police immediately via 101.”

Support and advice is also available from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) - online at nspcc.org.uk or by calling 0808 800 5000.