Lady of Justice
Zain Shah must complete three-year Community Punishment Order for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girlGetty

A Manchester paedophile has avoided jail after admitting he groomed and sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl.

Zain Shah pretended to be an undercover police officer who had been shot to earn the trust of the girl and bombarded her with daily texts and phone calls telling her that he loved her and wanted to marry and have sex with her.

He convinced the girl their relationship was real and normal, and eventually met her at Heaton Park in August 2013.

Several times they arranged to meet at a car park during the early stages of September and it was here where the abuse took place, with Shah kissing the victim and sexually assaulting her as she tried to push him away.

When the victim's mother discovered what he had done, she immediately reported Shah to the police.

Appearing today at Manchester Crown Court, Shah was handed a three-year Community Punishment Order requiring him to attend a sexual offender treatment programme. He was also placed on the Sexual Offenders register for five years and was issued with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for three years, preventing him from contacting or attempting to contact any female under the age of 16 years.

"Absurd"

Detective sergeant Alex Wild, of Greater Manchester Police said: "This was a classic grooming case, with Shah using emotionally charged language to suggest to this young girl that they were in a real, normal and healthy relationship.

"Of course, that is absolutely absurd. The reality is a 23-year-old man manipulated a child in order to get what he wanted, even pretending to be an undercover police officer who had been shot in the line of duty in order to win her confidence and sympathy.

"We hope that this case demonstrates that we take these incidents very seriously indeed, regardless of ethnicity, of religion or any other factors.

"Abuse is abuse and I want to try and assure the public that we will punish those people who exploit young people and do our best to make sure they face justice for their crimes."