A PAEDOPHILE who subjected his victims to a catalogue of appalling abuse was last night starting a 18-year prison sentence.

Alfred Place thought he had got away with his sex attacks in the 1980s and 90s by warning his victim nobody would believe them.

But last year, after reading a newspaper report about the 56-year-old exposing himself and touching another child, the victim bravely came forward.

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Place, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, denied a string of offences but was found guilty after a trial at Teesside Crown Court last month.

Judge John Walford told him that he had groomed both victims, gone on to repeatedly rape one of them, and had shown no remorse.

In an interview with a probation worker after his conviction, Place still refused to accept his guilt and insisted his accuser was lying.

His barrister, Peter Sabiston, told the court yesterday that they were "very serious and grave offences" and his interview "raised very serious concerns".

He said Place's admissions that he found the child sexually attractive provided "a kernel of hope" and his risk of serious offending had diminished.

Place admitted three charges of exposure and one of sexual activity with a child at a hearing last May - which prompted his earlier victim to come forward.

He was found guilty of four rapes, seven counts of indecency with a child and four of indecent assault.

Judge Walford told him: "Because of the way in which your activity increased over the years, it can properly be regarded as a form of grooming.

"There has been no remorse. Accordingly, you are considered to be unlikely to be receptive to the sort of treatment that might reduce the way you behave and the risk you pose."

The court heard that Place, of Manor Grove, Bishop Auckland, was given a probation order in 1983 for exposing himself to a child in his shed.

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe claimed his behaviour towards the most recent victim - dropping his trousers and touching the victim - was a build-up to committing rapes.

Judge Walford imposed an extended licence period of eight years - the maximum - for when Place is released from prison.

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