A SEX abuser who committed sustained, repeat acts on two young girls for his, “perverted pleasure”, remains in denial of the offences.

William Shepherd, who is considered an offender posing a risk of causing future serious harm to girls, was given a 20-year prison sentence at Durham Crown Court, where he was convicted following trial, last month.

The 59-year-old defendant denied two counts of rape and 20 other offences, 11 of indecent assault and nine of indecency with a child, committed over a period of about two years.

Following the six-day hearing, the jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts, on September 30.

Judge Ray Singh adjourned sentence to allow the victims to submit impact statements.

The court heard of the severe psychological effects his offending has had on both women, now adults, who have undergone counselling and suffered difficulties in relationships arising from their traumatic experiences earlier in their lives.

Shepherd, of Hareson Road, Newton Aycliffe, claimed none of the offences took place and said the women were lying.

Robert Mochrie, for the defendant, told the sentencing hearing that despite the outcome of the trial, he still denies committing the acts.

“I don’t offer remorse on his behalf as he’s consistently denied committing these offences, as is often the case.

“He may never admit committing them and is adamant the jury got it wrong.

“With the benefit of many years in custody he may reconsider.

“It’s going to have a catastrophic effect on his life. Moreover, the label of being a convicted sex offender which he will carry with him until his dying day.

“That is a significant punishment for him.”

As Judge Singh outlined the facts while sentencing, Shepherd shook his head.

Judge Singh said it, perhaps, showed his “true character” that he remains in denial.

“You seem to think this is normalised sexual behaviour,

“It’s not, and for that and your convictions, you will pay a heavy price.”

Shepherd must serve at lest half of the sentence before he is eligible for release, but only with the blessing of the Parole Board, and he may have to serve the full 20 years.

The minimum custodial element was initially thought to be two-thirds of the sentence, but Judge Singh later confirmed it was half of the full-term, but any release prior to the 20-year term would be at the behest of the Parole Board.

On his eventual release, Shepherd will be subject of a year’s extended licence period.

He was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sex offender notification, both indefinitely.