A Wiltshire sex offender has been jailed for the “abhorrent” abuse of two young children over many years.

David Hedges, of Dilton Marsh, was sentenced to 28 years in prison, plus a further year on licence, at Salisbury Crown Court on Tuesday, July 2.

The 57-year-old was found guilty of three counts of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 and four counts of indecent assault against the same girls on no fewer than 17 occasions.

This abuse was carried out during the 1990s and 2000s.

Hedges will be required to carry out at least two-thirds of his sentence before being eligible for parole.

He will also be subject to the requirements of being a registered sex offender, the conditions of a sexual harm prevention order, and a restraining order to indefinitely prohibit future contact with the victims.

Det Con Graham Mansell described the abuse Hedges inflicted on his victims as “abhorrent”.

David HedgesDavid Hedges (Image: Wiltshire Police)

He said: “This case involves the most abhorrent sexual abuse of very young children lasting for several years. 

“Steps taken in 2005 prevented further abuse, but there wasn’t enough evidence to pursue a prosecution. 

“The investigation was reopened in 2017 after the victims bravely came forward and gave their evidence to detectives in the child abuse investigation team. 

“Despite the abuse suffered, the victims were able to find the strength and courage to give their accounts which ultimately led to their abuser being found guilty. 

“When the victims were able to give their evidence, the investigation could be pursued and their abuser prosecuted.”

Det Con Mansell welcomed the sentence, which he said reflected the “seriousness” of the offences and their impact on the victims.

He also praised the courage of the victims for giving evidence which resulted in Hedges’ prosecution.

He added: “I'd like to thank the victims for their incredible bravery in coming forward and recounting what are unquestionably the most distressing and traumatic incidents from a time when they were both very young and vulnerable. 

“Their ability to do this made it possible to achieve a successful prosecution. 

“This could not have been achieved without their resilience and endurance. 

“Without their evidence it would have remained impossible to prosecute their abuser.”

Det Con Mansell hopes the case will “inspire” other non-recent sexual abuse victims to come forward.

He emphasised police will investigate any reports and offer victims their full support.

Sexual abuse can be reported on 101.

Victims can also seek support and counselling from the Swindon and Wiltshire Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 01793 781916.