Published: 16:30, 14 September 2017
Three victims of a vile sex attacker wept as their abuser was jailed after they told him: "We will not let you ruin our lives!"
Two of the girls had been so scared that they tried to harm themselves in the run up to the trial of pervert James Dodd.
But the courageous youngsters overcame their fears and gave evidence at Canterbury Crown Court.
The trio sat in the public gallery to see Dodd, 36, from Ashford, being given a 25-year extended jail sentence for his vile attacks – some of which he filmed.
During the 40 minute hearing, the victims - one of whom is still suffering flashbacks - could be heard crying as details of their suffering were relayed to the judge in their own words.
One wrote in her victim impact statement, which was read to the court by prosecutor Walton Hornsby: "It is extremely difficult to put into words everything that’s happened to me because I have a lot of flashbacks.
"I was extremely anxious about the court case because I knew that he (Dodd) would be calling me a liar.
"Two weeks ago I felt that I couldn’t face it and I took an overdose and had to go to hospital after I was found unconscious.
"I felt shocked at myself that I had briefly felt that I wanted to end my life but at the time I really felt that I couldn’t come to court and go through being called a liar and having to re-live what happened.
“But I actually now feel brighter, better and calmer about the fact that I held my head high and told the truth in front of other people.”
As Dodd sat impassively in the dock, she added defiantly: "I feel that I won’t be beaten by him and what he did - he will not ruin my life!"
Another victim added: “I feel even more hurt that (Dodd) has denied what he has done. I’d like him to own up so I can then get on with my life."
The court had heard how he had chosen his victims over a five year period and then carried out the attacks, which came with violence and threats.
"I feel that I won’t be beaten by him and what he did - he will not ruin my life!" - Dodd's victim
Judge Heather Norton heard how after one victim bravely came forward to reveal the abuse she had suffered as a child, an astute police officer then began an investigation which unearthed two more victims.
But the trial was such an ordeal that two of them harmed themselves and needed hospital treatment.
They also revealed they suffered guilt that by speaking out Dodd might face a long sentence.
Judge Norton told them: "They have nothing to feel guilty about. They were children!
She passed jail sentences totalling 123 years for 13 offences of rape and sex abuse - but made all the sentences concurrent with a 21 year immediate jail term.
The judge then told him that he would also have to serve another four years on licence when he is finally released.
Dodd, who now lives in Essex, had denied all the charges – even one for downloading a vile sex image found on his own phone - but was convicted by the jury.
He had told a probation officer that he saw himself as the victim.
Judge Norton told him that she believed he had filmed his vile attacks – even though detectives were unable to locate a laptop on which he is believed to have transferred the images.
After the hearing, an NSPCC spokesperson said: “Dodd’s three victims were subjected to horrific and violent attacks but showed great courage by giving evidence in court to help ensure their abuser has faced justice.
"Dodd is clearly a danger to children and the sentence passed reflects the threat he poses and the suffering he has caused.
“His crimes have had a devastating impact on the lives on the young girls he targeted and we hope they are now receiving help and support to overcome their experiences.”
More by this authorPaul Hooper