A PAEDOPHILE who was jailed for 18 years for raping a ten-year-old girl had his own mechanic business, it can be revealed.

John Cole, 33, was sentenced last week for the rape and sexual abuse on the child in Crawley.

After standing trial and being found guilty at Hove Crown Court, Judge David Rennie described him as “twisted” and “callous”.

In court it was revealed that Cole had been considered a respected businessman who ran his own firm in Dorking, Surrey.

The business is now expected to fold.

In court, family members stood by Cole, and Clare Evans, defending, said he was a well loved family man.

She said all families can be destroyed by such cases.

But Judge Rennie said Cole, of Oak Way, Crawley, had tried to lie to cover his tracks.

He said: ““It is hard to imagine a much more degrading and traumatising thing to happen to a child.

“You knew the victim was most unlikely to tell anyone about your sexual abuse, but you still frightened her into compliance. You told her she could be sent to prison.

“You chose to treat her as an object with which you could satisfy your twisted sexual instincts and caused tremendous harm.”

The case came to light because the girl’s mother found a note in a back pack describing the sickening sexual abuse.

After the case, Detective Constable Kirstie Prentice said: “Cole came to know the young girl over a period of time and systematically sexually abused her, taking advantage of her age and natural vulnerability for his own sexual gratification, telling her that if she told anyone they would both go to prison.

"Only when her mother found a note hidden in a backpack in the girl’s bedroom revealing she had been assaulted by him did the offending come to light, and police were informed.

"She has very bravely supported the investigation throughout and gave evidence against Cole in court, with special measures including a screen to help her."

Cole was ordered to serve a “special” sentence, which means he will not be released on licence half way through his jail term.

Instead he must serve at least two thirds of the 18 year sentence before he can be considered for parole.

Following the case, children's charity NSPCC said: "The vile lies of Cole show the lengths to which he was willing to go to abuse a vulnerable young child.

“That is why the NSPCC is committed to visiting every school with our ‘Speak out. Stay safe’ assemblies which use specially trained volunteers to teach children that abuse is never OK.”

Adults concerned about a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000. Children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111