A 69-year-old North Yorkshire man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for sexual offences against children in the 1970s.

Robert Lorenzo King appeared by video link from Hull Prison before York Crown Court yesterday, where he was sentenced for six counts of indecent assault, two counts of cruelty, and 12 counts of rape.

The offences were all against young girls, aged between seven and 18 when the assaults took place over a ten-year period between 1970 and 1980, mostly at a property in North Yorkshire.

Judge Stephen Ashurst, sentencing, said the impact of King’s actions towards the girls was “in all probability, incalculable”, and was one of the most disgusting cases he had heard in his career, telling King: “You could not care less about the fear and the humiliation you were causing them.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Alison Morris, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “I hope that the victims are able to take some comfort from the knowledge that King now has to face up the consequences of his depraved actions, which robbed them of their childhood.

“I would also like to praise the victims for coming forward and having the courage to give evidence against this evil man. This case is a clear example, that despite the offences having taken place many years ago, we have been able to secure a conviction.”

Adrian Strong, prosecuting, told the court King had beaten the children with a piece of wood, and rubbed skin cream into their injuries as a means to touch them.

When the girls reached their mid-teens, the court heard he repeatedly raped them, over several years, with “sexual incidents” taking place when he drove one of them to a secluded spot on the North York Moors.

David Dixon, for King, said his client had led “a perfectly ordinary, hard-working existence” in the years since the offences.

Mr Dixon said: “Whatever happened all those years ago, there has been no repercussion since, no repetition and as a result, whilst there was that period of time, he put it behind him and moved on, so the risk of reoffending is low.”

The court heard King had been treated for arthritis while in prison, but Judge Ashurst said this would not affect his sentence.

He told King: “The reality is you are no more ill than the average man aged 69. Unhappily, the courts have had to deal with men in their sixties, seventies, sometimes in their 80s, who answer for disgraceful behaviour committed when they were much younger men.”

Mr Ashurst told King, of Westbourne Grove, Scarborough: “Your perverted and selfish conduct has cast a dark shadow over your victims, robbing them of their childhoods and blighting their adult lives. You are 69 years old and today is the day you must face the consequences of your appalling behaviour over a ten-year period.”

After the hearing, DC Morris issued this public appeal: “If you have been the victim of a similar offence, no matter how long ago, I urge you to come forward and not suffer in silence. We have specially trained officers, who work with partner agencies, to provide victims with the help and support they need.”

A jury found King guilty of the 20 charges following a two week trial in July and he was remanded in custody at Hull Prison awaiting sentencing.

Yesterday King was sentenced to two years for each of the indecent assault charges, to run concurrently. He was also given two years for each count of cruelty, to be served concurrently, but consecutively with the other offences. King was also given 14 years for each count of rape, to be served concurrently, but consecutively with the other charges.