A CHILDREN’S charity has welcomed the jail sentence handed down to a Northleach man found guilty of repeatedly raping one young girl and sexually abusing another.

Kevin Blackwell, 52, had denied a total of 12 charges of rape and sexual assault of the girls but was convicted by a jury of nine of the counts last month and jailed for 16 years.

Both girls lived in Bibury at the time Blackwell abused them over a period of more than a decade between the late 1990s and 2004, the court was told.

Blackwell had claimed his victims, now women aged 27 and 30, had made up the allegations against him but could not offer any explanation of why they would do that.

After he was sentenced, an NSPCC spokesman for South West England said: “Blackwell preyed on two young and vulnerable girls for his own sexual gratification.

“His victims have endured decades of emotional turmoil following the abuse and it is absolutely right that their abuser is now facing the consequences of his actions.

“Abuse can ruin childhoods and have a lasting impact into adulthood, without the right support. Hopefully, this conviction will help these women take a step forward in their lives.

“We need to ensure that people who have been abused feel confident to come forward, safe in the knowledge that they will be believed and their voices heard – no matter how much time has passed.“

Recorder Sarah Vaughan-Jones told Blackwell he will have to sign the sex offender register for the rest of his life and he will be subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order which prevents him mixing with children under 18 except inadvertently or with the permission of their parents or guardians.

She said the impact on the girls, particularly the rape victim, had been ‘very significant.’ Curtis Myrie, defending, said the only mitigation for Blackwell was that when each of the girls in turn told him to stop what he was doing to them he did desist and did not trouble them again.

The NSPCC’s helpline for adults who require support is available 24 /7 and for free by calling 0808 800 5000.

Help for children and young people is available through Childline on 0800 1111.