A St Leonards man is starting a ten-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl he knew.
Michael Surman 73, of Conqueror Road, St Leonards, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on Friday (21 June) after a five-day trial, for gross indecency and indecent assault on the girl, then aged between four and six, at another address in St Leonards between 1999 and 2001.
Surman will also be a registered sex offender for life and in addition to his sentence will serve a further year on extended release licence.
The court also heard that in a separate case he had previously been convicted of possessing indecent images of children, in 2010. The images were taken from the Internet and did not involve any local children.
Detective Constable Ella Bigsby of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said; "Surman came to know this very young and vulnerable girl over a period of time, and eventually took advantage of her for his own sexual gratification.
"The victim kept this dreadful experience to herself for all this time until last year when unrelated events in her life her triggered her memory and she contacted us.
"We admire the steadfast way in which she has supported our investigation throughout and gave evidence in court against Surman, the key factor in bringing him to justice.
"We always investigate such offences, no matter how long ago they occurred, and will help the victims to seek justice and access sources of expert advice and support."
The victim said; "I waited nearly two decades to come forward, but I can now spend the rest of my life knowing Michael Surman can never abuse another child ever again.
"I would strongly urge any child abuse victim, how ever long it has been, to come forward. Ella Bigsby at Sussex Police did exceptional work in helping me get justice and Sussex Police can help you too.
"If you’re not ready to report to the police yet, I also had help from Survivors’ Network, based in Brighton. They can give you advice and support right from report to court. You can visit their website:"
For further information about investigation of sexual offences and the advice and support available see the Sussex Police website..