Published: 12:29, 02 December 2019
| Updated: 12:38, 02 December 2019
A child rapist is behind bars after a jury saw through his "desperate efforts" to avoid the consequences of his depravity.
Howard Hammond-Edgar, 65, from Herne Bay, raped a young girl at least three times, leaving her suicidal and needing counselling.
But he denied the charges, forcing her to relive the years-long ordeal during a trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
His lies unravelled, however, as he was unanimously convicted and jailed for 16 years.
The pensioner - described as having a “deep-rooted sexual interest in children" - had earlier admitted sexually assaulting the girl, but denied rape.
He had also pleaded guilty to possessing about 3,400 indecent images of children - 376 of them graded in the most serious category.
Police computer experts are still unable to interrogate one of his seized computers, due to its elaborate encryption.
"You were prepared to force this young girl to relive her experiences and prolong her ordeal for many years..." - Judge Simon James
As he was jailed on Friday, Judge Simon James ruled he posed a “significant risk of serious harm”
“Although you pleaded guilty to all the activity falling short of penetration, you either would or could not admit raping her," he told Hammond-Edgar.
“Having exercised your right to silence throughout these proceedings, it is almost impossible to accurately assess your motives and insight.
“What, however, is clear, is that you were prepared to force this young girl to relive her experiences and prolong her ordeal for many years.
“(That was) until the jury eventually saw through your self-serving account and desperate efforts to try and avoid the consequences of your actions and unanimously convict you of raping this young girl on at least three occasions.”
Prosecutor Paul Valder told Canterbury Crown Court the predator was locked up for eight months in 1980 after assaulting another child.
His latest victim now suffers suicidal thoughts.
Her mum told the court: “She has maintained being a child; she has continued to thrive in her education.
“She has been in counselling due to the abuse; she now suffers from anxiety and self-harms.
“She has suicidal thoughts.
"Despite her age, she displayed courage beyond her years to speak out against a man who subjected her to horrendous abuse..." - DI Sheena Barrell
“As a family, I hope we can put ourselves back together. We will never forget this but I hope we can move on.”
The victim’s family sat just metres from Hammond-Edgar in court.
The court heard Hammond-Edgar, of Wrentham Avenue, Greenhill, groomed the girl repeatedly, attacking her over a number of years.
He was handed an extended custodial sentence of 16 years and will then spend four on licence upon his release.
DI Sheena Barrell, a senior investigating officer, said: "Hammond-Edgar committed vile crimes against a young girl.
"Despite her age, she displayed courage beyond her years to speak out against a man who subjected her to horrendous abuse.
"I hope this result encourages other victims of unreported sexual abuse to get in contact with us so we can support and pursue justice for them."
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More by this authorSean Axtell