The 46-year-old first abused the girl when she was just six

A man has been jailed for seven years for abusing his girlfriend's daughter at her home in Co Limerick.

The judge said the extremely serious nature of the abuse and the breach of trust involved were significant factors in the construction of his sentence.

The man, who cannot be named to protect the girl's identity, started seeing her mother in 2009 and would often be left alone in their house with her.

The 46-year-old first abused her when she was just six.

His trial heard it happened when he lay on top of her while they were watching TV.

Over the next three years, he abused her in her mother's bedroom and a downstairs bathroom, and twice made her watch pornography.

The girl eventually told her mother what happened to her in a letter dated June 2013 - a year after she broke up with the man.

They did not contact gardaí until the man made contact with her through Instagram two years later.

Before sentencing him to seven years in prison, the judge commended the now 16-year-old girl for dealing with what happened to her in such a brave way.

In her victim impact statement, the girl said her innocence had been taken away but she hoped this would be a new beginning for her and her family.