A former soldier has been jailed for 13-and-a-half years for abusing a young girl almost 40 years ago.

Ian Joyner, now aged 70, had just left the forces and was working as a gamekeeper on an estate near Newton Abbot when he carried out the attacks.

He abused the girl repeatedly from the age of five to nine and has left her with a lifelong legacy of psychological problems, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Joyner, who went on to work as a deep sea diver, claimed the girl and her mother had invented her claims of abuse, but was found guilty by the jury.

Joyner, aged 70, of Woodlands Copse, Higher Sandygate, near Newton Abbot, was found guilty of two counts of attempted rape and five of indecent assault. He was also convicted of an unrelated count of causing actual bodily harm to an adult woman.

He was jailed for 13 years and six months with a one-year extension to his licence when he is released by Judge Erik Salomonsen.

He told him: ‘The victim of the abuse has made a moving victim personal statement in which she described the damage your abusive conduct has caused.

‘By contrast, you appear to have lived a life free from remorse or any suffering. The contrast between the perpetrator and the victim could not be more graphic.

‘You chose to deny everything, perhaps because you lacked the courage to face the truth. Instead, you tried to lie your way out of the situation; a situation which was entirely of your own making.’

During a week-long trial, the abuse victim told how Joyner started touching her while visiting her mother’s home in Devon in the 1970s.

Miss Heather Hope, defending, said Joyner has lived a blameless life in the 40 years since and is now in poor health, needed to take beta blockers suffering from anxiety and depression, and with concerns about glaucoma.