A young dad who abducted a vulnerable schoolgirl - to ‘protect her from harm’ he claimed - cannot complain about his tough sentence, top judges have ruled.

Matthew Charles Cooper, 20, spirited the troubled teenager away despite a police warning to stay away from her just weeks earlier.

After her disappearance, police went swiftly to his home, but he denied point blank that she was there, London’s Appeal Court heard.

However, when officers returned the next day, they discovered her ‘hiding behind the wardrobe’.

After his arrest, Cooper insisted he was ‘protecting her from harm from others’.

Cooper, of Alexander Square, Winsford, was locked up for 12 months at Chester Crown Court in September after he admitted child abduction.

But his case reached the Appeal Court as he challenged his sentence, claiming it was far too tough.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said there was no evidence Cooper had sexual contact with the girl after abducting her.

However, as a father-of-two, Cooper should have understood the need to avoid involvement with such a vulnerable child.

“He should have appreciated that she was vulnerable and needed protection from him,” said the judge, who was sitting with Lady Justice Sharp and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies.

“He failed to act on the warning given by police” and there was nothing “manifestly excessive” about his sentence, the judge concluded.