A ROOFER who molested two girls under the age of 16 has been jailed for four years.

Kenneth Ridehalgh, from Colne, was found guilty at Burnley Crown Court of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old girl during the 1980s and 1990s.

One of Ridehalgh’s victims spoke of the ‘long, hard road’ to get him convicted, but praised the courts for the sentence dealt to her abuser.

Ridehalgh was cleared of charges involving two other alleged victims, including three counts of rape, 14 offences of indecent assault and three charges of gross indecency with a child.

The 57-year-old, of Edward Street, pleaded not guilty to all counts. After he was charged, Ridehalgh was arrested under suspicion of intimidating witnesses, but no charges were brought against him, the court heard.

Rosalind Emsley-Smith, defending, told the court: “The offences were 20 years ago and there was no offending in the following period.”

She added: “Mr Ridehalgh retains the support of his family and friendship group.”

Judge Andrew Woolman said in relation to the indecent assault of the 13-year-old girl: “You were drunk when the incident occurred. Your drunkeness is no excuse for what you did.”

Judge Woolman said the incident involving Ride-halgh’s 15-year-old victim ‘should never have occurred’.

He said: “She was too young and you knew she was too young.”

Speaking after the sentencing, the victim, who is now an adult and cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was very grateful justice has been done.

She said: “Going to the police was the right thing to do. It’s taken me 20 years to do it, but I’m glad I did. It’s a long, hard road.”