AN 82-year-old man has been jailed for 16 years for sexually abusing a young girl “hundreds of times”.

The child’s parents trusted John Robert Penistone, pictured, to babysit her while they were at work, York Crown Court heard.

But for a period of two years, starting when she was nine, he subjected her to a catalogue of sexual assaults, including rape, the court was told.

As he passed sentence, Recorder James Baird told Penistone: “The sexual abuse occurred on a very regular basis, hundreds of times. You used every opportunity to abuse her for your own sexual gratification and on at least one occasion, you used violence against her in order to get what you wanted, grabbing her hair and calling her stupid.

“I have to reflect in my sentence the seriousness of these offences, the period of time over which they occurred, the breach of trust and where these offences happened.”

Penistone, of Westfield Avenue, Eggborough, pleaded not guilty to a charge of rape and also denied five charges of indecent assault and indecency with a child, but was convicted by a jury. He had admitted four further charges of indecent assault. All the offences were committed several years ago. The judge said he had tried to minimise his crimes.

“The reality is your victim still had to come to court to give evidence and to be cross-examined. It was plain to see it was a particularly distressing thing for her,” said the judge.

Penistone was given ten years for the rape charge, plus six years for the other offences.

Before the judge announced his fate, the defendant asked to speak directly to the judge and said from the dock: “I have been convicted of something I haven’t committed.”

The judge was given details of health problems and mobility difficulties that Penistone has and said he accepted that he would find a prison sentence difficult.

Penistone will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.