A CHILD protection charity has welcomed the 18-year jail term handed down to a Hampshire man who sexually abused two young girls.

Colin Sweed, 59, of Beech Crescent, Hythe, was sentenced at Southampton Crown Court after being found guilty of 11 offences committed over a 17-year period.

The girls were aged between three and 14 years old when they were abused at various locations in Southampton and the New Forest.

Sweed’s crimes included rape, indecent assault of a female under 16 years old, gross indecency with a child under 14 years old and gross indecency with a child under 16 years old.

His sentence has been praised by the National Society for the Protection of Children (NSPCC).

A spokesman said: “Sweed’s victims will bear the scars of his evil crimes for life but we hope the fact he is now behind bars and off the streets brings them some sort of inner peace.

“Since 2011, the NSPCC’s Speak out Stay safe service has been visiting primary schools across the country and teaching pupils about the signs of abuse and who they can turn to for help.

“In the 2017/18 academic year, the free service spoke to 9,179 children and visited 30 schools in Southampton.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, the charity Yellow Door, previously known as the Rape Crisis Team, played a key role in bringing Sweed to justice.

Police say he committed “atrocious” crimes against his victims throughout most of their childhood.

Detective Constable Heather Tack from Western Investigation Team at Southampton Central Police Station added: “We don’t underestimate the long-lasting effects this sort of offending has on victims.

“I’d like to thank the women involved for their courage in coming forward and re-living these horrendous experiences to bring this man to justice.”