A retired Steyning man has been jailed for seven years for sex offences against a child.
John Manvell, 67, formerly of Mill Road, Steyning, was sentenced at Hove Trial Centre on Friday.
When the seven years are up, he will serve an extended licence period of a further three years.
After a trial earlier this year, he was convicted on one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and one of sexual assault by touching a child.
He had denied any wrongdoing, but was convicted by a jury at Lewes Crown Court.
Mark Cotter, representing Manvell, said: “Mr Manvell continues to assert his innocence.”
Although the jury’s verdicts required him to accept his client’s guilt, he said, the prosecution case had described ‘opportunistic’ acts, rather than calculating behaviour.
“He has the support of his family, a number of whom are at court today,” he said, adding that they are committed to ensuring that he has the support he needs to stay out of trouble once he is released.
Sentencing, Judge Shani Barnes told Manvell: “This is a sentence after trial, and therefore there’s no discount for guilty pleas. There’s no acceptance of the conduct, and therefore no remorse.
“I accept that up until the age of 67 you’d never been convicted of a criminal offence, and that there was a huge raft of people from the local community who came to court to support you.”
She added that he posed a serious risk to children if he was ever allowed to be in a position of trust, so she imposed an extended licence period of three years, and made him subject to an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
The order prohibits him from having unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 16, except in the presence of a parent or appropriate adult who has been informed of his convictions and is approved by social services.
He will have to sign onto the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
After the sentencing, Judge Barnes praised the police officers and lawyers who had handled the investigation and the trial.
“Cases of this kind are very difficult and require extreme sensitivity,” she said, adding: “This young child was dealt with so expeditiously from the very first moment that the police became involved.
“It was a horrible case, dealt with brilliantly.”
A statement from Detective Constable Dani Flude said: “The victim was extremely brave in speaking out and we have been supporting her throughout. We would like to thank her and her family for their courage. The judge also commended everyone involved in bringing this case to light and said that the parents of the victim had acted with great dignity.
“I am pleased that this case has been resolved with Manvell being given a significant sentence. We take reports of sexual offences very seriously and will make sure we do all we can to get justice for a victim. If anyone has any concerns about this kind of offence please speak to us.”