An Eastbourne man who sexually abused a young girl for five years has now been given a 14-year prison sentence after an investigation by safeguarding detectives from Sussex Police.

John Gibbs, 50, a cleaner, of Shanklin Close, Eastbourne, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday 11 November, having been found guilty of two counts the rape and three counts of sexual assault on the child who was under 13 at the time.

He will be a registered sex offender for life and was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court decision, prohibiting him from any contact with his victim or her family, and from living in any household where there are children under 16.

Detective Constable Hugh Charles of Sussex Police said; “Gibbs came to know the girl and over a period of time he ingratiated himself with her and initially gained her confidence before systematically sexually abusing her, solely for his own pleasure.

“Only when she eventually felt able to disclose to family members what had happened was this reported to us, and action was taken immediately, resulting in Gibbs’ arrest and three years later in his subsequent prosecution.”

The victim’s mother said, on hearing of the sentencing: “This result was all my daughter wanted, for him to know he’d done wrong. For the first time in three years, she’s gone to the shops to buy sweets without having to look over her shoulder, and I hope sooner than later we will get to see a smile again.

“I also want to thank the police and the support services at Survivors Network for all their hard work and support they have given to me and my daughter”

Hugh Charles added: “I also want to thank my colleagues, Detective Constables Steve Wormley, Lisa Wells and Laura Powell for all their work in helping to bring Gibbs to justice. This was a team effort on behalf of the victim”

For information on how to report sexual offences and the support available see the Sussex Police website