A hospital worker convicted of sex attacks on young boys was this afternoon jailed for eight years at Lincoln Crown Court.
Alex Hepburn was found guilty by a jury last month of charges involving five boys.
Today he was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life and given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.
Judge Simon Hirst, passing sentence, said Hepburn, who was employed as a housekeeper at Lincoln County Hospital, had groomed his young victims before sexually abusing them.
The judge said: “There was grooming behaviour. You abused them sexually.
“Many of the mothers blame themselves. I make it perfectly clear that there is only one person to blame for your behaviour and that is you. Each of the mothers cannot and must not blame themselves.”
During the trial Andrew Vout, prosecuting, said that Hepburn indecently touched boys over a number of months, the youngest of whom was just four years old.
The offences came to light after he was arrested over a separate matter which was not subsequently pursued.
Mr Vout said that checks carried out on Hepburn’s computer revealed a stash of over 2,500 pornographic images of children including 401 in the most serious category.
The prosecutor said that the boys and their families had been badly affected by what happened to them.
Hepburn, 28, of Garfield View, Ermine West, Lincoln, was found guilty of a total of six charges of sexual assault of a child.
Two of the verdicts were by an 11-1 majority and two verdicts by a 10-2 majority.
The offences took place between January 1, 2016 and July 8, 2017. He was cleared of four charges of sexual assault and a further charge of inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity. He denied all 11 charges.
He did not give evidence during his trial.
Hepburn admitted three charges of making indecent photographs of children, three charges of distributing indecent images of children and a further charge of possession of a prohibited image of a child.
Mark Watson, in mitigation, said that Hepburn, who had no previous convictions, lacked maturity and has been diagnosed with autism.
“Having obtained a degree of independence with his flat that is now lost to him. His employment is now gone.
“He knows he is going to prison. In all likelihood he will have to move away from this area when he is released.”
The court was told that a psychologist had assessed Hepburn as having autistic spectrum disorder.
Hepburn, he said, had suffered significant physical and emotional abuse as a child and had been bullied at school.