Published: 10:31, 01 June 2019
| Updated: 10:44, 01 June 2019
A sexual predator who raped and abused a child over a period spanning almost a decade has been locked up for 21 years.
Andrew Lewis was convicted over a series of offences he carried out between June 2007 and November 2016 at locations in and around the Cranbrook area.
The 53-year-old, of Turner Avenue in the town, was arrested in March 2017, after the victim reported the crimes to Kent Police.
During police interview he denied any wrongdoing and claimed allegations by the victim were 'a fantasy '.
At Maidstone Crown Court, Lewis pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, three counts of sexual assault of a child, two of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and a further three child sex offences.
The case went to trial and he was convicted by a jury on all counts.
He was jailed for 21 years and will be on an extended licence period of five years after he gets out.
He was also added to the sex offenders' register and made subject of a restraining order, both indefinitely.
Detective Ben Clatworthy of the West Kent vulnerable investigation team said: "Lewis targeted his victim from a young age and then went on to systematically abuse and rape the child over a number of years.
"The damage he has caused is incalculable, but the victim has shown enormous courage to come forward and ensure he has now been punished for his despicable actions.
"This sentence illustrates once again our determination to investigate all reports of non-recent sex offences and I hope it will encourage other victims of this type of abuse to come forward.
"We have a team of specialist officers who work relentlessly to ensure that offenders like Lewis do not evade justice, just because a crime may have happened a long time ago and I would also like to assure anyone who may have been a victim of abuse that they will be treated with the utmost care and understanding."