A “despicable” man from St Albans has been jailed after being found guilty of committing sexual offences against a teenage girl over a number of years.

Anthony Dear, also known as Danny, was convicted on Wednesday, December 15, of five counts of sexual activity with a child.

Appearing at St Albans Crown Court on Monday, the 79-year-old was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Dear, of Ladies Grove, will also be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life and must abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order.

Detective Constable Jane Swift, from the Constabulary’s Sexual Offences Investigation Team (SOIT), said: “First and foremost I would like to commend the victim for the bravery she has shown throughout.

"She has been left absolutely traumatised by the despicable actions of Dear, who abused her for a number of years and then continued the ordeal by putting her through a trial. Thankfully she was able to give her evidence through video link.

“However, today’s sentence means that this deplorable individual is now behind bars and no longer poses a danger to children. I hope the victim can take at least some small comfort from this and begin to move forward.”

She continued: “We take all reports of sexual assault seriously, no matter how long ago the offence occurred.

“We have specially trained officers on hand to provide support and guidance and will always do whatever we can to gather the necessary evidence to secure charges. If you have been a victim of a sexual offence, please reach out to police.

“If you do not feel comfortable reporting to police straight away, the Herts Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) can provide practical and emotional support. The centre can arrange face-to-face support, sexual health referrals, and provide medical examinations.”

To contact Herts SARC, call the 24/7 helpline on 0808 178 4448, email Herts.SARC@nhs.net or visit www.hertssarc.org.