A DANGEROUS paedophile who repeatedly abused a young girl over the course of a decade has been handed a 12-year extended sentence.

Robert Boden sexually assaulted the child during the late eighties and early nineties at locations in four counties, including near Tidworth.

He denied four multiple-incident counts of indecent assault of a girl under 13 and four of indecent assault of a child under 16.

But a jury found him guilty of all eight offences, each of which happened on at least five occasions.

The abuse started when the girl was just three years old.

Winchester Crown Court heard that Boden touched the victim sexually, over her clothing, and made her touch him and engage in sexual acts.

Prosecutor Robert Griffiths said Boden's crimes were made worse by the fact that he had deliberately isolated his victim, who was extremely young at the time.

The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was terrified of Boden and felt he had stolen her childhood, the court heard.

She still suffers nightmares and flashbacks of her ordeal.

Boden, who had mental health problems and could not hold down a regular job, was convicted of possessing child abuse images in 2009.

His internet use had been monitored by the police ever since and he had not committed any further sexual offences, the court heard.

Defending, Lawrence Henderson argued that Boden had himself been sexually abused as a child and would probably never recover from his "horrendous upbringing".

He had been making good progress since 2009 and could continue to do so, if given a suspended prison sentence, Mr Henderson said.

But Judge Susan Evans QC sentenced Boden as dangerous offender — jailing him immediately for a total of eight years, with a four-year extended period on licence.

Judge Evans told Boden he had a "preoccupation with teenage girls" and posed "a high risk of committing further serious sexual offences and causing serious harm".

Boden, of Trumpington Drive, St Albans, must sign the sex offenders' register for life and must never work with children or vulnerable adults.

Detective Sergeant Catherine Kirkham said: “The victim in this case only felt strong enough to report the abuse she had suffered throughout her childhood in 2014.

“For many years, she attempted to live a normal life with the traumatic memories of the abuse at the hands of Boden bottled up inside – I commend her for the bravery she has shown in not only coming forward and contacting police but in then standing up in court and giving evidence after Boden denied all charges.

“Without her bravery, we may not have reached this successful conviction.

“Boden has shown no remorse for his actions throughout the whole criminal process. I am satisfied with the sentence handed out to him – although nothing will erase the awful memories and the long lasting affects his abuse has no doubt had on his victim, I hope that it gives her some form of closure and enables her to move on with her life knowing justice has been done.

“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who may have been a victim of sex abuse, regardless of how much time has passed, to report it to police. We will investigate, provide you with the full support you need, and do all that we can to bring to justice offenders like Boden.”

Call police on 101. Victims can also seek support and counselling from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) based at the New Swindon Sanctuary - they can be contacted on the 24-hour helpline 0808 168 0024.