A PERVERTED pensioner, who sexually abused girls over three decades, is starting a 21-year prison sentence, and will not be released until he is into his 80s.

Brian O’Neil, 66, who often filmed his activities, was branded “a danger” to underage girls and was made subject of an extended determinate sentence at Durham Crown Court.

It means he must serve at least 14 years in prison before being eligible for parole, but he may have to spend the entire 21 years behind bars.

On release he will also be subject to five-years’ extended licence supervision and will remain on the sex offenders’ register, “indefinitely”.

He was sentenced at the court yesterday, when the hearing heard of the traumatic effect his offending has had on his victims, in one case self-harming and making a number of suicide attempts.

O’Neil, formerly of Wharton Street, Coundon, admitted rape, plus 20 other mainly sexual offences, and voyeurism, at hearings in November and December, last year.

But he denied ten further counts, of which he was convicted following unanimous jury verdicts after a three-day trial in late April.

Passing sentence, Judge Ray Singh told O’Neil, who appeared via video link from Durham Prison: “There can be no criticism and no doubt you are a dangerous offender.

“There is a significant risk to members of the public of the commission of further specified offences.

“In your pre-sentence report you did accept the majority of your offending.

“Your offending pattern, transcended over three decades, reflects a long-standing sexual interest in young children that needs to be addressed in future.”

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Constable Donna Hicks, of Durham Police, who led the investigation, said: “O’Neil carried out these horrendous crimes for more than three decades and had a massive detrimental impact on his victims, who have suffered significantly.

“Putting his own sexual gratification first, he has destroyed the lives of not just his victims but also their families and continued to show a total lack of remorse throughout the investigation and trial.

“All the victims have shown enormous courage in coming forward and I hope this sentence means they can finally gain some closure and start to rebuild their lives.”