The mother of a sex abuse victim whose attacker was jailed for seven years has urged others in the same position to come forward.

David Lennon, 55, repeatedly abused the then five-year-old over a period of three months in 1999.

A jury at Lewes Crown Court heard the Hove man arranged so that he would be alone with the “vulnerable” girl before performing sexual acts on her.

Jailing him, Judge Peter De Mille, said: “She was five-years-old at the time and in my judgement particularly vulnerable.”

Detailing the difficulties she has had since the abuse, he added: “It is clear the impact your offending has had on her.”

On five separate occasions Lennon sexually assaulted the girl, before threatening her not to tell anyone.

It was only in 2009 that the girl, who is now 18, reported the abuse to the police.

'Heinous crime'

Lennon, of Lovegrove Court, Hove, was arrested and officers investigated the claims before bringing him to trial last November.

Speaking after the sentencing, the victim’s mother said: “We urge anyone who has suffered from heinous crimes of this type to come forward, whether the abuse is current or historic, so that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.”

Pierce Power, who represented Lennon, said that his client had battled alcohol, drug and mental health problems for much of his life.

Describing how he had in the past attempted to kill himself, he pleaded with the judge for a lenient sentence.

Victim's tears

He added how his time in Lewes Prison as a convicted child sex offender awaiting sentencing had been “hell”.

Sitting in the public gallery with her family, the victim wept as Lennon was sentenced.

Judge Peter De Mille handed Lennon a seven year term for the more serious indecent assault charge and four years for the other four, to run concurrently.

He was also put on the sexual offenders register indefinitely and handed a sex offences prevention order, banning him from unsupervised contact with under 16s.

Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Holly Hallahan, from Brighton and Hove Child Protection Team, said: “The defendant sexually abused her, grossly abusing his position of trust and irreparably damaging a little girl.

“This sentencing is a fantastic result for the victim and her family, and goes some way to easing the pain of the past.

“The victim is now 18 and this sentence means she can finally move on with her life.”

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