A SOUTHAMPTON man has been jailed for 17 years for child sex offences.

Stephen Lea was found guilty of one count of rape and 13 counts of indecent assault on a child.

Southampton Crown Court heard how the 54-year-old abused his young victim continually.

Lea’s offences were reported to the police after the victim said what had happened to a relative.

Lea of Logan Close was sentenced on Tuesday, May 19 to 17 years, with an extended licence period of one year.

He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) and ordered to be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Detective Constable Marie Leather said “Lea’s offending took place over a prolonged period.

“I cannot praise the victim enough for the bravery and courage she has shown in reporting what happened. Lea’s actions have had a significant impact on her and it has been something she has been trying to come to terms with throughout her life.

“I hope this sentence goes some way in helping her move forward.

“I also hope this sentence will encourage others who have suffered this type of abuse, no matter when it happened, to come forward and speak to us. We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and work hard to bring offenders to justice.”