A drunken paedophile who repeatedly abused a young girl after buying her silence with sweets and presents has been jailed for eight years.

Alistair Belt, 60, physically and emotionally harmed the child when he sexually molested her on three occasions when she was aged ten or 11, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.

The engineer was under the influence of alcohol when he committed the offences and regularly drank to excess, Judge Neil Davey QC said.

Belt, of Eversley Drive, Holme Wood, Bradford, was convicted after a trial in February of three offences of sexual assault and remanded into custody.

Wearing a striped grey V-necked jumper, he sat impassively in the dock as prosecutor Patricia Doherty applied for a Sexual Offences Prevention Order without limit of time.

It bars Belt from contacting his victim, having any unsupervised contact with children under 16 and working with them.

His barrister, Michael Collins, said Belt had no previous convictions and had been a man of exemplary good character.

“These convictions will have a devastating impact on the rest of his life,” he said.

Judge Davey ordered Belt to register with the police as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

He said the girl was at first too frightened to tell anyone what Belt was doing to her.

He bought her sweets and gifts to “buy her silence.”

“You have led a previously blameless life, with a good deal of honest work,” Judge Davey said.

But Belt had fought the allegations at trial and so would receive no credit for a guilty plea.

After the case, Detective Constable Emma Dawson, of the Bradford District Safeguarding Unit, said: “Belt sexually assaulted his young victim on several occasions, which must have been very distressing for her.

“We are pleased with the sentence handed down today and hope it will help to give the victim and her family some closure.

“We thank her for her courage in coming forward to report Belt’s offences to the police, and we hope it will encourage other victims of sexual offences, no matter how historic, to do the same.”