January 2019: Gantley’s jail term has been reduced from 24 years to 18 years and the appeal judge quashed the two-year extended licence period.

April 2018

Rapist jailed for sexual attacks on girls

A rapist who carried out a “campaign of sexual violence” against two girls has been jailed for 24 years.

Lee Gantley was convicted of the historic crimes against the children during the 1980s.

His offending started when he was a youth and continued until he was 19.

The 46-year-old appeared before Hove Crown Court for sentencing yesterday following a unanimous guilty verdict from the jury.

The charges against him included three rapes against one girl who was between the age of six and eight, and two rapes involving another girl who was between the ages of eight and 11.

He also committed acts of indecent assault and inciting children to commit further acts of gross indecency.

Prosecution barrister Sarah Lindop said the offences, which happened in Lewes, had a huge impact on the two girls.

She said Gantley threatened them in the hope they would not report his crimes, telling them that no one would believe them and they would be taken away.

But they did come forward, and yesterday they saw Gantley, of Wells, Somerset, jailed for a total of 24 years.

Beverley Cherrill, defending, said Gantley came from a broken home, with his mother absent and his father addicted to drugs and alcohol.

She said many of the offences were committed while he was still a youth, and lived a “feral” life in a dirty house that lacked any furniture or food.

She said all these factors had an impact on how damaged he might have been when carrying out the sex attacks.

But Judge David Rennie said Gantley, who appeared in the dock wearing glasses and a dark suit and a white shirt, had destroyed the girls’ childhoods.

He said: “I accept that your own background was extremely difficult and deprived, with no mother during those crucial years and a father who was incapable of setting a good example, taking drugs and alcohol.

“None of that was your fault.

“Having said that, over a number of years you chose, and it was a choice, to subject two young girls to the most serious and systematic sexual abuse.

“You raped them a number of times.

While you were relatively young, I cannot ignore the fact it was when you were aged between 17 and 19.

“You used threatening language to secure their compliance and to avoid detection, and did so for a long time.

“It equates to a campaign of sexual violence.

“It had a devastating impact on those two young lives and caused profound psychological harm.

“It destroyed much of their childhood, and they continue to carry those scars.”