THE wife of a councillor jailed for sexually assaulting young girls has spoken for the first time.

Olga Zabotkina, a Russian-born interpreter, married Leslie Sheppard ten years ago but has yet to decide if she will stand by him.

The 48-year-old was not in court last week when her husband was sentenced to two years in prison for indecently assaulting three girls over a 20-year period.

He will also be put on the sex offenders' register for ten years.

Mrs Sheppard said: "The last year has been a tough time. I am not even trying to be judge and jury or get to the bottom of it.

"I am just trying to get through each day. It is not easy. I genuinely don't know what to think. Les is adamant he didn't do anything and they are adamant he did.

"I will visit him in prison out of a sense of duty, but am not sure what will happen in terms of our relationship. I have a lot to think about."

Mrs Sheppard met the Durham city councillor when she came to the region to work as an interpreter.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Sheppard, 71, of Coxhoe, County Durham, lured his victims into his Porsche car and drove them to remote spots where he indecently assaulted them.

The attacks, which happened between 1963 and 1983, came to light after one of the girls wrote a letter to Mrs Sheppard.

She said: "A letter was sent to me in 1998, but I never read it.

"Les told me what was in it, but utterly denied it, so it was just left until he was arrested last year after the girls had contacted the police.

"It all happened way before I even met Les, so it is difficult to know what to think."

Mrs Sheppard said no one had said anything nasty to her - regardless of what they were thinking - which she was grateful for.

"My neighbours are shocked and have asked how I am coping, but mainly people have been supportive," she said.