A MAN who repeatedly sexually abused a girl, culminating in an attempt to rape her, has been jailed for nine years.

Morris Backshell, 48, of Luddesdown Road, Toothill, sexually assaulted the girl when she was just 12.

And the abuse continued until he tried to rape her when she was 15.

Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court the abuse started in the late 1990s with Backshell tickling the girl and the game progressed, leading to him touching her indecently.

Miss Marlow said he also got the child to watch him carry out a sex act and, on another occasion, made her touch him.

She said the abuse came to an end in early 2002, shortly before the victim’s 16th birthday, when he tried to rape her.

The court heard she was screaming and shouting and managed to fight him off.

As a result of the abuse she told the court that the girl had required counselling to help her come to terms with what had happened to her.

When Backshell was arrested earlier this year he refused to answer questions during police interview.

He initially denied the charges but a couple of weeks before he was due to stand trial he admitted what he had done.

Backshell admitted to attempted rape, two counts of indecency with a child and two of indecent assaults.

Rob Ross, defending, said his client accepted he was facing a lengthy jail term and was sorry for what he had done.

Over the years he said he had suffered from depressive illness which had led to him being in and out of mental hospitals.

Before these offences he said Backshell had been a man of good character and there was no suggestion anything had happened since.

He said that, though the abuse went on for a number of years, the fact that the girl had fought him off seemed to bring Backshell to his senses and he realised what he was doing was wrong.

Mr Ross told the court: “My best plank of mitigation is he stopped it and he has admitted it.”

Passing sentence, Judge Euan Ambrose said: “These offences are so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be justified. “It must be custody and of some length.”

As well as jailing him he imposed a sexual offences prevention order, told him he must register as a sex offender for life and banned him from working with children.