A 66-year-old man whose "campaign of sustained abuse" went hidden for years has been jailed - more than 40 years after his first offence.

Eugene Mitcham, of Eaton Road, Kempston, sexually abused the youngsters over a period of years from 1974 to 1980. They were just eight and 11 years old when it began.

Today, he was jailed for two and a half years during a hearing at Luton Crown Court having been convicted of three counts of indecent abuse.

Children's charity the NSPCC called his crimes "vile" and said they hoped the outcome would give other victims of abuse the confidence to report it.

"Mitcham’s horrific campaign of sustained abuse against young girls came to light thanks to the immense bravery shown by his victims.

NSPCC spokesman.

"Mitcham carried out sexual abuse against two young girls and I’m pleased that he has been sentenced for his abhorrent actions, despite the length of time that has passed since the offences took place. "Bedfordshire Police is committed to tackling sexual abuse, no matter how much time has passed since the offences took place, and I hope that this case shows to others that, if you come forward, you will be listened to, you will be believed, and justice can be done."

Det Con Samantha Shane, Bedfordshire Police.

Mitcham was also added to the Sex Offenders' Register for life and had been made the subject of both a sexual harm prevention order and a restraining order.

The pensioner was found not guilty of six other child sex offences during his trial.