A Crawley man has been given an 18-year-prison sentence for sexual assaults on a young girl, police said.
John Cole, 33, a mechanic, of Oak Way, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday, October 11.
He had been found guilty after a five-day trial of two offences of rape and four offences of engaging in sexual activity against a girl below the age of 12, Sussex Police said.
A police spokesperson said Cole will also be a registered sex offender for life.
Detective Constable Kirstie Prentice of the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said the victim had ‘very bravely’ supported the investigation with ‘special measures including a screen to help her’ when she gave evidence in court.
She said: “Cole systematically sexually abused her, taking advantage of her age and natural vulnerability for his own sexual gratification, telling her that if she told anyone they would both go to prison.
“She has very bravely supported the investigation throughout and gave evidence against Cole in court, with special measures including a screen to help her.”
An NSPCC spokeswoman said: “The vile lies of Cole show the lengths to which he was willing to go to abuse a vulnerable young child.
“That is why the NSPCC is committed to visiting every school with our ‘Speak out. Stay safe’ assemblies which use specially trained volunteers to teach children that abuse is never OK.”