A MAN who sexually abused a child claimed it was ‘the evil spirits’ that made him do it.

But Judge Beverley Lunt told Brian Farrington, 74, that the only evil spirit was himself and sent him to prison for four years.

Burnley Crown Court was told Farrington’s abuse of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, started when she was 11 and went on for a further three years.

Prosecutor Susan Carter said Farrington, formerly of Rising Bridge, got ‘sexual gratification’ from the abuse which happened in the 1980s.

Ms Carter said Farrington would inappropriately touch his victim and would even make her strip off in front of him.

Ms Carter said the victim had confronted Farrington, who served in the army for six years, when she was 18 and he admitted what he had done.

Ms Carter said: “He apologised for his behaviour.

“He said he was sorry for what he had done to her.”

The victim reported Farrington, now of Southfield Rise, Paignton, Devon, to the police earlier this year.

Ms Carter said: “He fully admitted what he had done and he accepts he got sexual gratification.”

In her victim impact statement the complainant said the abuse had affected her adult relationships.

Ms Carter said: “She finds it very hard to form relationships.

“She finds it difficult to trust other people.”

Farrington pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault.

Defending, Neil Howard said Farrington had devoted himself to charity work in recent times to try to atone for his past behaviour.

Mr Howard said: “What is clear from his police interview is he concedes he got sexual gratification from this. He concedes his victim would have been scared. He has never denied his behaviour over the years.

“There seems to be an extreme level of disgust and shame in his actions.

“He goes to church twice a day. He’s involved in charity work. He’s involved in homeless shelters. He’s said he does that to try to repent.

"He knows the outcome of this hearing. He has been waiting for this day for many years.”

Judge Lunt said: “You have completely failed to accept that the cause of your behaviour was your own underlying deviant sexual interest in your victim.

“You have tried to blame what you did on evil forces. The only evil force was you.”

Speaking after the case, Simon Morris, an investigating officer in Lancashire Police’s Operation Fervent anti-abuse team, said: “It is never too late for victims to come forward. The police will always take these complaints seriously.”

Farrington was told to sign the Sex Offender's Register indefinitely. Judge Lunt decided not to impose a sexual harm prevention order.