A MAN who sexually abused a young girl more than 20 years ago, has left the victim with a legacy of psychological harm, a court heard.

David Thompson evaded justice for his actions until the victim, now an adult woman, felt able to report it to police in recent years.

But he is now paying the price for his abuse of the girl, having been sentenced to a 63-month jail term at Durham Crown Court.

Faced with four counts of indecent assault, the 65-year-old, of Oakfield, Newton Aycliffe, indicated guilty pleas when he appeared before magistrates and admitted all four counts at his first hearing at the crown court, last month.

The case was adjourned for preparation of a background probation report prior to this week’s sentencing hearing.

Ian West, prosecuting, read an impact statement provided by the victim, which outlined the psychological trauma she has suffered in the years since the abuse took place.

In the aftermath she turned to illegal drug taking for which she has spent time undergoing rehabilitation, while she also made attempts to take her own life.

Stephen Hamill, mitigating for Thompson, told the hearing: “He accepts there is no justification for what he has done and there’s nothing he can say to justify of explain that behaviour.

“In the pre-sentence report he is apologetic to the victim, and remorseful, and understands the significant impact on the victim.

“He hasn’t tried to shy away or justify what he did and is genuinely sorry for what he has done.

“He knows he will have to live with the shame of what he has done”

Mr Hamill pointed to the report author’s “low risk” assessment of the defendant committing further sexual offences and said: “There is no indication of him causing significant harm to the public.

“He will almost certainly lose his accommodation as a result of these offences and has come to court prepared for what may happen to him.”

Mr Hamill added that the defendant is, “not in the best of health”, due to rheumatoid arthritis and sleep apnea.

Judge Ray Singh described Thompson’s crimes as, “horrific offending against a young child.”

He told him: “The impact on the complainant has been tragic and immense and you need to reflect on that impact when you are in your prison cell.”

The judge said his behaviour displayed, “a deviant sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children.”

Imposing the total prison sentence of five years and three months, he made Thompson subject of the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, prohibiting unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 16, and the requirement to register as a sex offender, both indefinitely.

A restraining order forbids him from direct or indirect contact or approaches to his victim, also for life.

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