A "PROLIFIC" child rapist from Downham was sentenced today (July 11) to 28 years in prison.

Leslie Burrell, aged 62, of Whitefoot Lane, was found guilty of 39 counts of child abuse including rape, sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photographs of a child.

His victims, 11 boys and a girl, were abused between 1972 and 2007.

Judge Amy Robinson told Woolwich Crown Court: "You stand convicted of 39 offences involving the sexual abuse of a number of young boys and a girl, including 13 counts of rape.

"You took every opportunity to abuse these children, you corrupted their young lives.

"All the while you were telling them what you were doing was normal and there was nothing wrong with it.

"Your 12 victims were abused over a period of 35 years, hundreds of sexual abuses with children between the ages seven and 15.

"You groomed these children over a long period of time so they were utterly compliant.

"The effect on the victims has been varied, each has acted differently.

"You took away their innocence. You have caused them deep embarrassment, shame and anger.

"It was a gross abuse of trust, truly shocking."

Many of Burrell’s victims were forced to give evidence against him, either shielded behind a screen or through pre-recorded interviews.

Judge Robinson added: "It is highly unlikely that such a prolific series of offences will come to an abrupt end. Who can say when that risk will cease?

"There remains a significant risk of serious abuse to children by you committing these offences."

Burrell denied all charges.