A married Rotherham pensioner who indecently assaulted a 14-year-old girl when he was in his 40s has been jailed for three years.
The girl, now aged 38, was so affected she turned to drink and drugs and only disclosed what had happened when she recently went for counselling.
Retired waterways worker Thomas Swift, aged 69, admitted six offences of indecent assault between February, 1988, and April,1990, when he appeared at Sheffield Crown Court.
Richard Thyne, prosecuting, said the teenager used to visit Swift who kept greyhounds in kennels at his home.
She would go after school and muck out the dogs and help groom them and he took her to various greyhound tracks in the area.
He began by rubbing her hands when she was cold and then began hugging her and kissing her.
The court heard his behaviour escalated and he indecently assaulted her and exposed himself to her.
When arrested Swift, of Brinsworth Street, Rotherham told police his behaviour had preyed on his mind over the intervening years.
He knew he had taken advantage of the girl but he saw it as ‘fondness which had developed between them’.
Judith Seaborne, defending, said Swift admitted a breach of trust.
“He simply says it should not have happened,” she said.
Swift had since expressed genuine remorse and he felt he had let everybody down.
“He has expressed relief as his wrongdoing has weighed heavily on him over the years,” she said.
“He is the first to say he must be punished.”
Ms Seaborne said Swift had been married for 40 years and his wife was in court to support him.
Judge Julian Goose said: “Your behaviour towards her became inappropriate and sexual, you were 43 to 45 at that time.”
He said the offences were aggravated because of the length of time over which they continued.
“Your victim has been profoundly affected,” he said.
“As a result she has suffered from stress, depression and drink and at times has taken drugs.
“It is only through counselling sessions that she finally disclosed what you did to her.”
Swift was placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register which prevents him from working with children and young adults.