A MAN who repeatedly raped a young girl who he started abusing when she was just six years old has been jailed for 16 years.

Shaun Rudman started trying to have sex with the girl when she was just seven years old.

The 43-year-old, who had already been molesting the girl for about a year, then continued to abuse the youngster. And when she was 12 he had sex with her for the first time after he brutally forced himself on her.

Rudman, who has a long history of violent crime, continued to abuse the girl until she found the courage to tell her mum about it in a letter on Facebook when she was 14.

Hannah Squire, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that in the letter the girl revealed the horrific abuse she had suffered for eight years.

Miss Squire said her mum persuaded her to go to the police.

The victim told officers Rudman first touched her improperly in front of the TV at the age of six when she went to his house to be looked after.

She remembered when he first tried to rape her he persisted for about 20 minutes, and tried many more times, but did not succeed until she was 12.

The girl said the last time it happened was shortly before Christmas 2012.

Miss Squire said as a result of what happened, and the fear of having to go to court, the child had tried to take an overdose.

Rudman, of Sheringham Court, Liden, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, two attempted rapes and one of sexual assault of a child under 13.

Miss Squire said each offence took place a number of times.

He pleaded not guilty to rape relating to when the girl was aged between six and eight and the Crown said they would not seek a trial on that.

The court was told he had a lengthy criminal record with offences of GBH, riot, robbery, burglary and other matters of violence, but none related to sex.

Rob Ross, defending, said: “He is under no illusion about the sentence the court has to impose on him for a long period of time.”

He said that his client had a difficult childhood and after being sent to a “school for maladjusted children” was sexually and physically abused there.

“It almost follows as night follows day that someone who was severely abused as a youngster goes on to do the same things,” he said.

Mr Ross said that during his time in jail, it is hoped work can be done to reduce the risk of Rudman re-offending.

Judge Douglas Field said: “This is one of the most serious cases that I have had to deal with.

“The sexual abuse progressed in its seriousness and its frequency. The effect this has had on her is momentous.

“The psychological damage you have done to her is very, very serious and will be lifelong and has to be reflected in the sentence that I intend to impose.

“All I can hope is that this sentencing exercise gives the victim some sense of closure and puts this behind her, but I stress I fear this will be with her for the rest of her life.”