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Gordon Redmond, 71, attacked five young girls in Brighton back in the 1960s and 70s.
A jury at Lewes Crown Court heard that Redmond, who lived in Brighton at the time of the offences, repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted his victims who were aged between 10 and 15. It was 35 years before one of them came forward to Sussex Police in January 2007 to report what had happened to her.
The officer who investigated the case has welcomed the sentence and praised the victims' bravery in coming to court.
DC Lou Hays, from Brighton's Child Protection Team (CPT), said: "This has been an extremely long and complex enquiry which has taken three years to bring to court but we're delighted that justice has been done today and Redmond will be behind bars for the rest of his life.
"The bravery of the victims and their families has been incredible. From the moment this was first reported to police they have co-operated fully with the investigation and have shown dignity and bravery throughout."
The court heard that the abuse started in the 1960s when his first victim was just 10 years of age. He started by indecently assaulting her but by the time she was 11 he was raping her. He also indecently assaulted another girl in the 1970s when she was aged 12, a third victim when she was aged 11, and indecently assaulted another 15 year old girl.
As the investigation continued, CPT officers traced a fifth victim who had never told anyone about the abuse she had suffered at the hands of Redmond when she was 12 years old.
DC Hays added: "This case highlights that no matter how long ago offences were committed, we will fully investigate. It doesn't matter when offences like this happened, our role is to get justice for the victims and that is what we have done."