A paedophile who abused girls as young as five over a 20-year period has finally been brought to justice, as his victims spoke of how he still haunts their nightmares.
Shaun Connealy, aged 61, was jailed for 27 years at Sheffield Crown Court today after a jury convicted of 13 charges involving serious sexual offences against five vulnerable children and one young adult between 1978 and 1999.
Connealy, now of Nelson Road South, Great Yarmouth, committed offences including rape, attempted rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault in the Rotherham and Skegness areas.
Harrowing statements from his victims were read to court detailing the devastating impact of his offending on their lives, with several attempting suicide as a result of his offending.
Judge Sarah Wright said that two of his victims had tried to report their abuse at his hands as children but no action was taken.
She said: "Your offending has had a devastating and long-lasting effect on each of your victims.
"You took away their childhoods."
She said his offending had caused "far-reaching and severe pyschological harm".
"Each victim has shown considerable bravery in coming forward now.
"There has been delay in bringing you to justice as a result of your behaviour towards them where victims felt unable to speak up fully out of fear and a sense of shame."
Two victims described how they still have nightmares about him, while another said his abuse of her has led to memories of being attacked being triggered by men wearing blue shirts similar to ones he wore.
"When bus drivers changed their uniforms to blue shirts, I couldn't get on a bus for months.
"Something like a blue shirt triggers a memory and puts me in a low mood for days.
"I felt no-one would ever believe me. This experience has ruined my life and made me suicidal and I have attempted it a few times."
Another victim said: "I suffer nightmares two or three times in a night. I can only sleep with a light on and would suck my thumb like a child.
"I cannot see a life without tablets. I have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Sometimes I feel so frightened and anxious I can't leave the house.
"He took my childhood away with my innocence. Sometimes I feel like sexual abuse is all around you.
"What has happened to me has ruined my life 100 per cent."
Another said she has suffered with mental health problems and an eating disorder as a result of her abuse.
She said: "I can't form a proper relationship with my own children because of what he did. Had I not been abused, I wouldn't have the issues I have now.
"Before I was nine years old, I was a happy child.
"I deliberately put on weight because I thought if I made myself fat and ugly he wouldn't want to touch me but it didn't work."
Connealy showed no reaction in the dock as the statements were read and he went down to the cells after being sentenced to 27 years in jail. But members of the jury who convicted of him were in tears at the end of the case.