A PAEDOPHILE who sexually abused three fatherless children in County Durham and fed them their pet rabbits was last night beginning a 14-year jail sentence.
Police who investigated the “horrific” offences of former soldier James Mason said yesterday that they were delighted with the severity of the sentence – one of the longest handed out in a child sex abuse case.
And the victims of his sickening lust, who the trial judge said had suffered mental scars from the years of abuse, smiled as they left the courtroom and the sadistic pervert began his sentence behind bars.
Mason was convicted at Teesside Crown Court of 18 sexual offences in the 80s including four rapes.
Judge David Bryant said that the youngsters had suffered permanent psychological damage from Mason, of Farm Cottages, in Ludworth, near Thornley.
Mason was described in court as a cruel bully by the victims.
He remained impassive even when the judge told him that he would probably spend at least ten years in prison.
He would then have to be registered as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The children’s mother said that the youngsters had two rabbits which lived in a hutch in her back garden.
One day, when she was at work, he cooked a stew which he described as “prairie chicken”.
Afterwards he devastated the children by telling them that they had just eaten their own pet rabbits.
Mason denied the allegations, and his barrister said that he was no future threat to children because he had been impotent since before 1995.
However, the judge told him that they were appalling offences in which he had used the children as playthings to satisfy his lust.
One of the children, now grown up, said in evidence that the victims had never discussed the offences.
After the trial, a spokeswoman for Durham Police said: “These were horrific offences committed against very young children and we think the sentence handed out by the court reflects the serious nature of the crimes.”