A MUM said she was 'ashamed' of her son after he was sentenced to 12 years in jail for attempting to rape an 11-year-old girl.

Joshua Beardmore, of Glenthorne Avenue, Worcester, was convicted of attempted rape and sexual assault by penetration at Worcester Crown Court today.

The father-of-one attacked the girl in a city alleyway while he was walking her back to her home, in May.

Judge Jim Tindal labelled the 25-year-old as a 'coward' who 'couldn't even have the courage to come to court to face up to what he's done.'

He added: "For all I know he's sat in his cell pretending it's not happening."

Judge Tindal granted a request by the defendant's mum to speak in court, following sentencing today.

His mother said: "I'm so ashamed he's done all this to that poor little girl."

Beardmore's mother had written a letter of apology to the victim and her mum.

However, Judge Tindal insisted that the family were not to blame for Beardmore's actions. Judge Tindal said Beardmore was 'in drink' when he took advantage of the victim and attacked her in an alleyway near the Goodrest Tavern, in Barker Street.

The father only stopped when he had a 'flash of conscience', prompting him to question what he had done, the court heard.

Judge Tindal added: "He should then have taken responsibility for what he had done, but on that evening the lies started."

He described the lies as 'ridiculous, offensive and ill-thought-out' and praised the victim as an 'incredibly brave little girl'.

Jason Aris, defending Beardmore, said: "His family have attended throughout the trial.

"They have been deeply upset by what they have heard and they are thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour. "As a result of what they have heard he will certainly be isolated from that family from now on.

"The only reason they have come to court each and every day is they wanted some finality to this."

He also thanked Mark Fletcher, a witness in the trial, who helped the victim after she escaped from Beardmore.

Mr Fletcher was getting money out of a cash machine when the young girl approached him and asked for help.

He took her into the Barker Street Co-op, where staff phoned the police, and then got her mother.

Judge Tindal said: "He's a Good Samaritan. He may not feel he did very much but what he did was critical."

Detective Constable Alistair Mulcaster, the lead officer in the case, said: “This was a horrific attack on a young girl who has shown great bravery in reporting the incident and supporting the investigation.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Beardmore is a danger to young girls and deserves to be behind bars.

“His actions will have deeply affected the victim and I hope that following this verdict her and her family feel a sense of justice.”

Detective Inspector Tony Garner, from Worcester CID, said: “I would like to pay tribute to the officers involved in this case for the professionalism they have shown in such a sensitive investigation and their dedication to ensuring justice is delivered for the victim.

"The judge stated that the officers' conduct had been exemplary.

"I have no doubt the public will be grateful that a dangerous offender has been taken off the streets.”

Worcester Crown Court sentenced Beardmore to 12 years in prison and six years on licence today.