An Eastbourne man is starting a 17-year prison sentence for child sex offences after an investigation by Sussex safeguarding detectives.

Simon Hutchinson, 53, unemployed, now of Hailsham Road, Stone Cross, near Eastbourne, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Thursday 22 April after being convicted of 14 offences relating to the sexual abuse over 10 years of a girl known to him who was a young child when the abuse first began.

He admitted four offences of rape, and seven of sexual assault, all on multiple occasions, as well as three offences of possessing indecent images of children.

Twelve of his 17 years sentence will be spent in custody, and the other five years will be spent on extended prison license supervision.

He will also be a registered sex offender for life.

In March 2020 the victim, by then in late teenage, finally disclosed the continuing abuse, to a friend who immediately called the police and Hutchinson was arrested on the same day.

Due to the bravery and ongoing cooperation of the victim and her family, and following a detailed police investigation, Hutchinson pleaded guilty at a pre-trial hearing at Lewes Crown Court on 3 March.

In sentencing Hutchinson, Judge Jeremy Gold said that his was “an appalling catalogue of entrenched and systematic abuse”.

Detective Constable Tania Snashall from the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said; “This was a very disturbing case in which the defendant, then living in Eastbourne, clearly groomed the victim from a very young age, despite her being in a position where she should have been able to trust him.

“It is only due to her bravery of the victim in speaking out that the abuse was stopped and she is finally able to start living without abuse and fear.

“I hope that the sentence clearly demonstrates the seriousness of the offending by Mr Hutchinson and allows the victim and her family to start rebuilding their lives.”

See the Sussex Police website for information and advice on reporting offences against children and the support services available.