"I may be a victim but more importantly I am a survivor."
The words of a woman who bravely told a court how a Kettering paedophile's sickening abuse had left her feeling broken.
John Gardner, 46, was given an extended sentence of 10 years in prison and two further years on licence yesterday (Wednesday) for the protection of the public.
Sentencing, His Honour Judge David Herbert QC told him: "You should be ashamed by what you have done."
Northampton Crown Court heard Gardner, of Athelstan Road, was finally arrested for child sex offences in May 2020 after his victim came forward and police were told of his actions.
Prosecuting, Sarah Phelan said: "He told her not to say anything and not to tell anyone."
When he was arrested he gave a prepared statement to police where he initially denied it and said he had learning difficulties.
In the statement, he said: "I did not do this. This is completely untrue.
"I am frightened and scared at being at the police station for the first time."
But despite his lies he later admitted his guilt and yesterday his victim bravely read out a statement from behind a screen, describing the impact his actions had on her.
She tearily told the court how she suffers from nightmares, anxiety and panic attacks and still doesn't feel safe.
In her statement, she described how she hopes things will eventually get better.
She said: "I cannot keep living like this."
She told the court of the impact on her mental health and said she had since had counselling.
She added: "I'm tired of feeling broken and damaged."
Gardner, who took a red holdall into court in anticipation of his prison sentence, showed little emotion in the dock as details of his horrific crimes were read in court.
Mitigating, Matthew Rowcliffe said Gardner had no previous convictions and that he deserved one-third credit for pleading guilty at the first available opportunity.
He said the paedophile had a background of mental health difficulties and had not committed any crimes since.
Mr Rowcliffe added that Gardner, a charity shop volunteer, had a learning disability and an IQ of between 50 and 70 but that he had displayed some insight into his offending.
He said: "A prison sentence is, for him, likely to be much more difficult than is ordinarily the case."
Judge Herbert QC told Gardner that his sentence would have been 15 years in prison if it was a trial, reducing it to 10 years because of his guilty pleas.
He said it was necessary to impose an extended sentence for the protection of the public in the future.
He told him: "You do pose a significant risk of serious harm to young girls."
Gardner will have to serve at least two-thirds of his 10-year sentence before a parole board can consider whether it's safe for him to be released.
Once he is released he will serve the remainder, plus an extra two years, on licence. Breaching the conditions of his licence could see him serve the rest of his sentence in prison.
The paedophile will also be on the register for sex offenders for life.