A disabled pensioner has been jailed for abusing a girl 20 years ago, after she stood up in court to tell a judge how her ordeal had ruined her life.

Tony Holley was living in Exmouth and working as a mechanic and panel beater at Sams Garage in Budleigh Salterton when he sexually assaulted the 14-year-old in the 1990s.

He was found guilty of one of six allegations against the same girl at a trial at Exeter Crown Court last month. The single count of indecent assault related to him simulating sex with the victim.

She sobbed as she returned to the witness box to read out an emotional victim statement which said the abuse had affected her ability to trust people or form relationships throughout her late adolescence and adult life.

She said she buried the pain so deeply that she only reported Holley to the police after attending a safeguarding children course which led to her being overwhelmed by the memories she had been suppressing.

She said: “I had an awful feeling at the pit of my stomach. I felt dirty and wanted to vomit. I had buried it deep inside me because I wanted those feelings of disgust and shame to go away.

“I still feel angry and embarrassed. I blame him for all these feelings I have inside me and the fact that I am always fearful.”

Holley, aged 68, of Moorfield Close, Exmouth, denied indecent assault and said no abuse had happened. He suggested his physical disability would have made it impossible to commit the offences.

But he was found guilty, and was jailed for three years and ten months by Judge Stephen Climie, who also put him on the sex offenders register.

The judge said he had reduced the sentence to take into account the physical difficulties Holley will experience in prison as a result of his reduced mobility, caused by polio in childhood. He needs crutches to walk.

Miss Kelly Scrivener, defending, said Holley would benefit more from working with probation in the community than from being sent to jail.