A man from Wrexham has been jailed for 11 years after his “past caught up with him”.

Paul Hignett, 62, of Station Road at Rhostyllen, denied a series of sex offences dating back 20 years.

Appearing for sentence, he had previously been convicted of 12 charges of indecent assault and indecency with a child by a Mold Crown Court jury.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told Hignett he thought he had got away with it, adding: “You realise that your past, sadly for you, has caught up with you.”

Custody, said the judge, was inevitable because he had been convicted of repeatedly sexually abusing a very young child when he was in his mid-40s.

He was more than 30 years older than his victim, who still struggled to come to terms with what he had done to her.

“You are now going to have to answer for your depraved behaviour as a younger man,” the judge said.

Hignett was ordered to register with the police as a sex offender for life.

An indefinite sexual harm prevention order was made and a ten year restraining order was made.

He must not approach his victim in any way and he must not write anything about her on social media.

Judge Rowlands said the victim was very young when the offences happened.

He would simulate intercourse with her and get her to perform a sex act upon himself.

Hignett could get no reduction in sentence for a guilty plea and the judge said he had not shown any remorse and continued to deny the offences.

“You have no comprehension of the way you were meant to behave as a grown man towards a child, or of the harm you have caused her,” the judge said.

He was now a retired man in his 60s who was not in the best of health who until his conviction by the jury was a man of good character but there was plainly no alternative to an immediate custodial sentence of some length.

There had been delays in the case and the judge said Hignett was now being sentenced for his behaviour as a younger man some 20 years ago.

“It can be said that you have managed to live a pretty normal life for many years while on the other hand your victim has had to deal and live with what you did to her as a child,” Judge Rowlands said.

He said Higentt had taken advantage of a little girl and taken her childhood away from her.

Barrister Anna Price, prosecuting, said that in a victim impact statement the girl, now a woman in her 30s, had told of the “horrible” effect it all had which had ruined her childhood and “robbed her of her innocence”.

The victim suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and felt she could have achieved much in life but for what happened.

She “hated” Hignett for what he had done to her.

It continued to affect her, she had sleepless nights and she also had nightmares involving Hignett coming into her room.

His offending had a great effect on her state of mind as she was growing up and she felt that she could not trust anyone.

It affected her relationships and she found herself over protective with her own children.

But she finally felt that she could move on following the jury’s verdicts.

Matthew Dunford, defending, said Hignett had no convictions and had been a hard working man.

He had worked in coal mines including Point of Ayr for many years and later worked in other capacities including care homes.

Hignett, said Mr Dunford, had suffered personal tragedy and his own daughter who he cared for had died at the age of 17 from cystic fibrosis. She had been an enormous feature in his life.

The jury heard Hignett had sexually assaulted the victim back in the 1990s when she was aged under 12 but it all started when she was much younger.

He alleged  Hignett regularly sexually touched her and forced her to indulge in indecent acts upon him.

The victim approached the police last year to make a formal complaint about what had happened to her.

The court heard the police had become involved in the year 2000 and had spoken to her.

She was younger and had told the police that he had touched her but at that stage she did not wish to take the matter any further.

A schoolfriend who the victim had confided in at the time was called by the prosecution to give evidence.

Hignett denied anything sexual had ever happened between them and said there was no truth in any of the allegations against him.

A jury of 10 delivered unanimous guilty verdicts after two jury members were taken ill during a week-long trial.