NICHOLAS Cheese, jailed for 17 years in the US after filming himself abusing a 13-year-old girl, has been described by a former flatmate as a childish man who spent a lot of time alone in his room.

The 27-year-old from Cutteslowe had “befriended” his victim over a chatroom about Harry Potter before travelling to the United States and abusing her in a motel room in Bangor, Maine, last June.

He pleaded guilty to producing images of child abuse after he filmed one of his encounters with the girl. Images of abuse were also reported to have been found on his home computer in the UK.

American police said Cheese, who met the girl the year before, had been due to travel to Texas for a conference.

He arrived in Bangor on June 26 and was arrested four days later in the motel room after the girl’s parents reported her missing. Police searched the room and found the footage on his phone.

The victim did not appear in a US District Court but her father did. He told Judge John Woodstock that she became “best friends” with Cheese, which helped to get her through a life-threatening illness.

Cheese wept as his parents asked the judge to be lenient. His father lives in England and his mother lives in Spain.

The Bangor Daily News reported Judge Woodstock said the sex may have been considered consensual between adults but the girl was not old enough to give consent.

As he sentenced him to 17 years plus five years of supervised release, he added: “I credit the defendant with all he did for this girl before he met her but when he met her, he gave her a crash course in sex.

“In a matter of three days, he exposed her to a range of sexual experiences many adults would refuse to explore.

“The defendant’s actions against this 13-year-old girl were unusually aggressive.”

Cheese lived in a semi-detached shared house in Templar Road with three other people for about six months.

One of his former housemates said he had a young mental age.

The man said: “He was not like an adult, more childish than anything else. He used to keep himself to himself and stay up in his room. He never used to want to mix.

“But he was a nice guy, very pleasant. I never had any problems with him at all.

“He told me he was going to America on his own. He didn’t say why. He was looking forward to his holiday.

“His room was rented out to someone else. The next I heard the landlord said he had been arrested.”

It was reported in American press that Thames Valley Police was part of the investigation into Cheese but force spokesman James Williams yesterday refused to comment about its involvement.