A MAN accused of targeting three young girls during a campaign of sex abuse spanning 23 years has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Thomas Martin, 56, went on trial at Paisley Sheriff Court, where he denied sexually assaulting girls aged between five and 13.

All three charges against Martin were found not proven after he told a jury how he had “adored” his first alleged victim and had a “brilliant” relationship with his third.

He denied using lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour to a girl between 1995 and 1996, when she was aged just five, at his former home in Glasgow.

Martin further denied sexually assaulting another girl “on a number of occasions” at a property in Johnstone between 2012 and 2013, when she was 12 and 13.

And he also denied a sex attack on a 10-year-old girl at another address in Johnstone in August last year.

Martin, a father-of-four whose oldest child is 38, took the stand to give evidence in his own defence.

He told the jury he was accused of sexually assaulting his first alleged victim after looking after the child for her mum one night.

Martin said he was living in the Tollcross area at the time and was accused of abusing the youngster after she went back to her mother.

He told the jury the girl’s mum phoned him and called him “a beast.”

When asked how he felt about the girl back then, Martin replied: “I adored her.”

He was also asked about his relationship with his third alleged victim – and claimed: “It was brilliant.”

Martin said he felt “upset” by the claims and denied abusing any of the girls but admitted he had slept in the same bed as his first alleged victim after she had visited his room.

Defence Advocate Joe Barr asked the jury to acquit Martin, of Rowan Street, Paisley, telling them: “He sits before you as an innocent man.”

After deliberating for more than three hours, the jury found all three charges not proven.

Read all the latest from Renfrewshire and beyond