A Chesterfield man has been jailed for raping a child under the age of ten.
Matthew Howell, 38, of Mouncastle Walk, Newbold, was sentenced to six years and nine months after being found guilty at Derby Crown Court.
Howell was 15 when the assault happened in the mid-90s in north east Derbyshire.
The woman, who is now in her 20s, first spoke to counsellors before then contacting the police.
The court was told Howell gave his victim sweets and compliments before moving on to committing incidents of gross indecency and sexual assaults – before finally raping her.
The abuse took place over more than a year and Howell told his victim they were in a relationship and that she could not tell anyone because they would stop them.
Howell was found guilty of one count of rape, two counts of gross indecency and two counts of indecent assault of a girl under the age of 14.
The 38-year-old must also sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.
The woman has spoken out following the trial – telling others who have been victims to come forward and not suffer in silence.
She said: “Telling my mum was a massive relief because it was something that I had carried on my own for many, many years.
“The same goes for reporting to the police. The first time I really opened up about what happened was during my police statement."
His victim was not in court when the guilty verdict was returned, but was immediately contacted with the news.
She said: “It was a bit surreal – I wanted to scream as loud as I could. It felt like the battles I had through all those years had come to an end.
“Today’s sentencing will hopefully mean that I can shut this door, finally move on and get my life back together. He’s stole enough – it’s time to have my life back.”
As I got older – and people of my age were learning about normal sexual relationships – I found it really hard and I was repulsed by the thought.