A PAEDOPHILE who targeted and raped a young girl has been jailed for 15 years.

Christian Thomas, formerly of Newport, but latterly of Rougemont Grove, Thornwell, Chepstow, was found guilty after a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

A jury of seven men and five women convicted the 33-year-old of three counts of rape against a girl under the age of 13.

The offences were committed in Chepstow during this decade.

He had denied the charges.

Thomas, who was represented by Christopher Rees, told the court he had never sexually assaulted his victim.

He had claimed she was making the allegations up.

Trial prosecutor Matthew Roberts said the complainant had called Thomas a “very bad man”.

After his conviction last week, the defendant appeared for sentence at Cardiff Crown Court via video link from prison.

He had his head bowed and was tearful throughout the proceedings.

The prosecution was represented by Laurence Jones at the sentencing.

He read part of a victim impact statement on behalf of the girl which revealed she was suffering from nightmares as a result of her ordeal.

Mr Rees, in mitigation, said: “The defendant is a man of previous good character. This will be a life-changing sentence for him.”

Judge Jeremy Jenkins jailed Thomas for a total of 15 years.

The defendant was sentenced to a custodial term of 14 years with an extended licence period of one year.

Thomas was told he would have to serve at least seven years in prison before he was eligible for release.

Judge Jenkins said it would be up to the Parole Board to decide “if it is safe to do so”.

Thomas must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and was made subject of an eight-year sexual harm prevention order.

Outside the court, Detective Sergeant Natalie Sullivan, Gwent Police’s officer in the case, said: “We welcome the sentence handed down to Christian Thomas which reflects the very serious nature of his convictions.

“I would like to take this opportunity to praise the victim in this case, who has shown bravery throughout the investigation, and her family who have supported her during this extremely difficult process.”