A FORMER martial arts instructor who repeatedly sexually abused a young boy in Swindon has been sentenced to eight years in prison - and will spend four and a half years behind bars.

Colin Stratton, who has served time inside for similar matters in the past, will be on an extended licence for the remainder of his time once released, after a judge ruled he posed a significant risk of serious harm.

The 56-year-old left his victim, who he started to abuse when he was just 11 years old, self harming as a teenager to blot out the mental pain of what he endured.

Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how the victim first met Stratton when he went to his classes as a boy in late 1989.

The youngster was befriended by the defendant, who also worked on market stalls, and he would often go with him.

She said during the next six-and-a-half years Stratton abused the boy.

Miss Marlow said the burly martial arts instructor would use the classes as an opportunity to assault the boy and assert himself on him.

"The victim admits he was ashamed and scared of what was happening so didn't tell anybody," she said.

"He came forward as he doesn't want to live in fear anymore."

When he was questioned by police, Stratton denied the allegations, saying the lad had heard what was said at a previous trial by another victim and was just repeating it.

Miss Marlow read an impact statement where the boy, now a man, told how his life had been blighted by the abuse.

He told how he had started cutting himself with a blunt Swiss Army knife when he was about 13, continuing as he got older with a bread knife and other sharper blades.

On one occasion he drank a quarter of a bottle of washing up liquid and also burned himself with a hot match which had just been blown out.

He said seeing NSPCC adverts on TV brought it all back and led to him self harming again, saying: "I can only stop it by replacing the mental pain with physical pain."

Stratton, now of High Street, Shrivenham, pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child between September 1989 and March 1996.

The court was told that he was jailed for six years, following a trial in 1997, for rape of a boy under 16, attempted rape and indecent assault.

And since his release he had been convicted of possessing indecent images of children.

Mike Jeary, defending, said his client knew he was facing a lengthy jail term for what he has done.

He said that had he been dealt with at the same time for all the matters he may not had been told to serve much more time behind bars.

Since his release, he said he had completed a Thames Valley Sex Offender Programme, which had taught him to avoid situations where he might offend.

"He describes being at McDonald's when a load of schoolboys came in and he changed his order from eat in to take away, so it has changed his lifestyle," he said.

Mr Jeary said he was living with his father in his sheltered accommodation and considering employment that would keep him away from boys.

Jailing him, Judge Peter Blair QC, said: "The victim impact statement that he made and has been read out is one which tugs at the heart strings and I suspect you will never know just how much harm you have caused and this necessarily puts you in a very high bracket for sentencing purposes.

"I have borne in mind that had this come before the courts back in the late 90s, early 2000s, that you may have been dealt with in a global sentence in the other matter you contested and resulted in a six-year sentence.

"But I also have to bear in mind when I come to sentence you that there is a clear theme and that you don't understand your twisted thinking and you don't understand the damage you have caused."

As well as the jail term he also imposed a sexual offences prevention order, restricting his liberty, and told him he must register as a sex offender for life.