THE father of a nine-year-old girl who was abused after being lured into woods last night told how the ordeal has devastated his family.

Following the life sentence imposed on predatory paedophile Kevin Toner, the victim's parents described the "shattering experience" of the attack.

Toner was jailed indefinitely after a judge ruled the 20-year-old - convicted five years ago for abusing two boys - was a serious risk to the public.

Toner, from Middlesbrough, was given a community penalty in 2002 after he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault.

Yesterday, he was told he might never be freed from prison after his latest conviction for sexual assault and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

The judge, Recorder Jeremy Richardson, told him: "You pose, and are likely to pose in the future, a very serious risk to young children who you will trick in your classically cunning and predatory way.

"I make it plain to you that the sentence of detention for public protection is an indefinite sentence - it will last for the remainder of your life.

"I do not know when it will be safe to release you."

Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday that the victim - forced to give evidence at Toner's trial last month - is undergoing weekly counselling to overcome her ordeal.

Her family were in court to see Toner jailed. After the case, her father said: "She is having nightmares and her behaviour has changed since all this happened.

"It has been a shattering experience and it is a relief that the case is now over. We will never get 100 per cent closure, but the successful prosecution of Kevin Toner must surely go a long way towards that."

Detective Inspector Stan Drummond, who led the investigation, said after the case: "Toner is a very dangerous man."

Toner has always denied the charges and still maintains he was not the man who molested the girl in woodland near Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough, last year.

The court heard how he followed the girl and a friend onto and off two buses on September 6 before asking the nine-year-old for directions and luring her into the woods.

He held a mobile phone to his ear throughout the girl's ordeal and tricked her into believing she and her friend would be harmed by another man if she did not do what he told her.

The girl was forced to undress before Toner abused her and took pictures of the attack on the mobile phone, but she managed to flee when two dog walkers approached the scene.

Mr Recorder Richardson ruled that Toner, of Thomas Street, North Ormesby, could be considered for parole after serving four years, but warned: "You may well serve a great deal longer than that."

The girl's parents thanked the police and prosecutors for their handling of the case, and their employers for being "sympathetic and flexible" since the incident.