A young woman who was subjected to sexual abuse has spoken out about her experience in a bid to help other victims.
She was preyed upon by Michael Sangster, who has been jailed for 14 years, and continues to suffer from several psychological effects.
Sangster, 40, of Bardon Moor Road, Darlington, was found guilty of two counts of rape and two counts of sexual abuse of a child and possession of an extreme pornographic image following a trial in January.
Last night his victim said: “I didn’t think I was going to be believed because it had happened so long ago, but I was.”
Speaking after the sentencing at Newcastle Crown Court, the victim’s mother said: “She feels that justice has been done and that she can concentrate on moving forward now.
“Nothing can erase what has been done and nothing can bring back [her] childhood but she can relax and go about her life.
“For [her] the most important things were being believed and that he wouldn’t be able to do this to anyone else.
“And I believe she has achieved this, if not forever at least for a long time.”
Sentencing him to 14 years, with an additional year of extended licence as an offender of concern, Judge Edward Bindloss said: “This is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified.”
Judge Bindloss added: “The effects of this in my judgement are still to be fully understood because offences like these take many years to come to terms with.”
References were made to internet searches made by the defendant at a later date which Judge Bindloss told the court showed he had been “carefully considering his position in relation to sexual offending against a youngster”.
In a victim impact statement the complainant explained how she struggled in many ways – often having nightmares, not sleeping, losing her temper, influencing how she dresses while it had put a strain on relationships.
“I feel like I’m at the point where I can’t do normal day to day things,” she said.
The court heard the victim also suffered from depression, “bottles things up” and “keeps people at arm’s length”.
In mitigation, Christine Egerton told the court the defendant was of previous good character, save for a caution in 2015 for harassment, that he accepted the verdicts and had gained a job and was “working hard” in prison.
The defendant will serve half his sentence behind bars and then will be eligible for parole.
He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order.