A 94-year-old Haverhill man has been jailed for sex offences he committed four decades ago.
Frederick Smith, who lives at the Place Court Care Home in Camps Road, began abusing his victim while he was working as a bus driver.
Today (Thursday) Ipswich Crown Court heard how the offences, some dating back to 1972 came to light when the girl’s mother went to the police.
Smith, who arrived at court using a walking frame and accompanied by a carer, had pleaded guilty to four offences of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child.
He was sentenced to a total of 12 months.
Prosecuting, Hugh Vass said the offences all took place in Haverhill between 1972 and 1982 while the girl was aged under 14.
Smith had used “snatched moments” alone with his victim to indecently touch her on a weekly basis and also forced her to perform oral sex on him at a house in the town.
The girl, now a married woman, said: “At the time I didn’t realise what he was doing. I was terrified of him.”
Smith had told the girl that what took place was “our little secret” and warned that if she revealed what he had done no-one would believe her and she would be in trouble.
As well as verbal threats, when the girl plucked up courage to confront Smith when she was a teenager, he had thrown a pair of gardens shears he was holding at her but missed, the court heard.
Some of the abuse took place in a rest room for bus drivers when Smith took the opportunity to put his hand inside the girl’s underwear and indecently touch her after a colleague briefly went outside.
In a statement the girl said: “He would use every opportunity he had to do things to me. He didn’t seem bothered where we were or who was around.”
The victim said that the abuse had subsequently had a detrimental impact on relationships through her adult life.
Following his arrest Smith was interviewed by police and asked if had committed the offences to which he replied: “I probably did. I don’t know what made me do it.”
Mitigating, Joanne Eley said Smith had expressed considerable remorse and said he wished he could turn the clock back.
Miss Eley said: “He is coming to the end years of his life and he says he is a partly religious man and hopes there can be some form of forgiveness.”
Sentencing him, Judge David Goodin told Smith that his offences had taken away a substantial part of his victim’s childhood been “terrible.”
Judge Goodin said: “Justice cries out that you be sent to prison for your crimes and vile as your crimes are I am in no doubt that justice would not be justice unless it is seasoned with mercy.”
Smith’s offending would have attracted a substantially longer prison term if it were not for his age, said the judge.
Judge Goodin told Smith: “You will carry the shame of your offending to the grave. Every hour, every day, every night will weigh heavily on you.”
Smith will serve his sentence, with release into the community on licence after around six months, in the hospital wing of HMP Norwich.