A man who subjected a young girl to repeated sexual abuse has been jailed following an investigation by specialist safeguarding officers in Leeds.

Eric Sawyer, aged 55, of Sissons Grove, Middleton, was investigated by officers from Leeds District Safeguarding Unit after the victim came forward as an adult to report the incidents that occurred in the late nineties and early 2000s.

When he was arrested and interviewed in 2021, he denied the offences.

His electronic devices were seized and downloaded and an image of extreme pornography was discovered – an offence he later admitted in court.

He was also charged with child sex offences but pleaded not guilty.

Following a trial at Leeds Crown Court that concluded in February, he was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and one of unlawful sexual intercourse with a child under 13.

The victim was able to give her evidence in the trial via pre-recorded cross-examination under special measures available to vulnerable victims as part of work to support her through the court process by investigating officer Detective Constable Rachel Jackson.

Today, Sawyer was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment with an extended licence period of one year.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Lambert, who heads Leeds District Safeguarding, said: “Sawyer preyed on the victim when she was a vulnerable young girl causing her significant harm and psychological trauma.

“It was only later in her life as an adult that she felt able to come forward and disclose the abuse that he had inflicted on her.

“Despite the understandable upset that reliving her experiences caused her, she bravely stood up against her abuser and provided the court with the evidence that saw him convicted.

“We hope that seeing him finally brought to justice and held accountable, will give her some degree of closure as she continues to move on with her life.

“We also hope that the successful outcome of this case will help to give other victims of similar offences the confidence to come forward knowing they will be listened to and supported by specialist Safeguarding officers.”