A GRANDFATHER has been put behind bars for a sex attack that took place almost two decades ago.
Derek Thomas sexually assaulted a schoolgirl during a visit to Boldon from his home in Yorkshire in the 1990s.
The 47-year-old denied two charges of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child, during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.
Jurors found him guilty of all three charges and Judge John Miliford, QC, yesterday sentenced him to 21 months behind bars.
Thomas’s denials meant his victim, who is now an adult, had to relive her ordeal from the witness box in front of the jury in court.
Judge John Milford told Thomas: “You did not admit the offence, you denied it at trial with the result she had to give evidence, which clearly she found a distressing experience.
“She was overcome with emotion when she finally left the witness box.
“I am satisfied this has made an impact upon her.
“No sentence other than a custodial sentence can be justified.”
The court heard at the time when the sex attack was carried out, Thomas had been in a lot of trouble with the police, and served a 10-year prison sentence for arson, but has no convictions since 1998.
Richard Herrmann, defending, handed in a references to Thomas’s good character and said there has been no complaints about the defendant’s behaviour towards other children.
The father and grandfather was accompanied at court by supporters, who watched from the public gallery as he was given the jail term.
Judge John Milford told Thomas: “You had an appalling record and you were subject to a community sentence at the time of this offence.
“You have, subsequent to that, turned your life around.”
Thomas, of Bayfield Close, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, denied the offences throughout.
He has a total of 46 previous convictions, mostly for offences of dishonesty.
Thomas showed no emotion as he was led away to start the prison term.