A CHILD abuser who got away with his crimes for almost 40 years is behind bars after his victim finally reported them.

William Thompson, now 68, was jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of four charges of indecent assault and one of indecency.

He denied the allegations and faced a trial at Teesside Crown Court when his accuser was forced to relive her ordeal in the witness box.

She told a jury how Thompson regularly abused her in the mid-1970s when she was a youngster, but could not say how long it lasted.

Richard Herrmann, mitigating, said on Friday the conduct - when the Stockton pensioner was in his 20s - had never been repeated since.

He objected to a sexual offences prevention order being imposed, saying: "It is completely unfounded. The necessity test is not met.

"There had been no repetition of the offending. The offences stopped when the defendant was aged 27. This is not an unfamiliar syndrome."

Mr Herrmann said Thompson had a traumatic time in the 1970s after an injury, and described the offences as "entirely out of character".

He provided a bundle of positive character references from people who know him, and said: "We would urge mercy from the court."

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Thompson, of Northport Road, Stockton: "It does you no credit you still dispute this.

"None of those who have written to me can understand or explain why it was you behaved in the way you did in the early 1970s.

"You took advantage of the absence of your wife to entice the young girl into your home, and there you assaulted her.

"What can be taken into account is the gap between now and then and the fact that you have not committed any further offence."