AMOTHER has spoken of her crippling guilt after not believing her daughter when she said she was being abused by a twisted paedophile.

Michael Brignull, 60, of Thorney Bay Caravan Park, Canvey, was last week locked up for 11 years for a catalogue of sickening offences against a friend’s daughter.

The girl’s mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the paedophile had “ripped her family apart”.

The 43-year-old had known Brignull for 27 years.

She said: “We were so close Mick used to come to our house for Christmas dinner and my children used to stay with him for school holidays.

“He was a surrogate grandfather to them.”

The victim, now aged 17, was at her brother’s 18th birthday party, when she told a family friend she was being abused by Brignull.

Her mum said: “My first reaction was ‘oh my God, she is a bloody liar’. I thought she was jealous her brother was getting all the attention because it was his 18th.

“I 110 per cent did not believe her.”

The next day the mother confronted her then 16-year-old daughter.

She said: “I said to her ‘put your coat on, we are going to the police station’. She was hysterical and refused to go. Then a few days later she wrote me a letter explaining what Mick had done to her.

“She said she didn’t want to talk about it, so I wrote her a letter back. We carried on like that.

Writing letters back and forwards to each other.

“Then I took the letters to the police.”

Last year, Essex Police officers went to the family’s home.

The woman said: “They said ‘we understand you don’t believe your daughter’.

“Then they produced a cropped picture they had found on Mick’s laptop. It was an indecent photo of my daughter.

“I was devastated I had not believed her and this could go on without me ever suspecting. I kept saying over and over, ‘this cannot be true’.

“Then I started to remember little things. The children used to go to Mick’s for the holidays, but one day he said he could no longer take my son because he was naughty, so my daughter carried on going alone.

“She said a couple of times she didn’t want to go, but I thought she was just being difficult. I keep thinking that was an excuse to get her there alone.”

It is believed the victim was abused for much of her childhood.

The victim’s mother added: “I found out later my daughter didn’t want to tell me what was happening because she didn’t want to upset me.

“This has ripped our family apart and to my shame I didn’t believe my little girl.”

Police described Brignull as a “dangerous man who wormed his way in to a family”.

Investigating officer, Det Con Mark Matthews, from Essex Police, said Brignull was someone who “threatened the safety of others”.

Brignull was convicted of possessing indecent images of a child, taking indecent images of a child, causing a female to engage in sexual activity without consent, sexual activity with a female child under 16 and two counts of attempted rape.

Det Con Matthews, said: “He is a dangerous man who wormed his way into this family and then abused his position of trust over a prolonged period of time.

“He effectively became the children’s unofficial surrogate grandfather after which he then took them to his caravan and sexually abused them.

“He posed a danger to many, but now that he is behind bars he can no longer threaten the safety of others.”