• The man, now 48, sexually abused a young girl as a teenager over a five-year period
  • The victim was around 5 years old when the abuse began
  • The victim reported her attacker to police in 2019 after disclosing to her partner what had happened when she was younger

A 48-year-old man in the U.K. has been sentenced to prison for sexually abusing a young girl over a five-year period in the 1980s and '90s.

Ilyas Akhtar, of Manchester, England, was sentenced at Bolton Crown Court Friday to three years in prison after he was found guilty of six counts of indecent assault, according to a statement from Greater Manchester Police.

The victim, who was not named for legal reasons, was around 5 years old when the abuse began, and it carried on until she was 10 years old, the Bolton Crown Court jury heard.

Akhtar was 14 when he began sexually touching the victim on a regular basis at his house and another address, the statement said.

Prosecutor Charlotte Rimmer said that the victim believed there had been a "code word" that Akhtar used before carrying out the abuse but that she could not remember what it was, Manchester Evening News reported.

The victim reported Akhtar to police in 2019 after disclosing to her partner what had happened when she was younger.

Akhtar was arrested in March that year and pleaded not guilty to the offenses.

Akhtar gave no comment when interviewed by police but admitted to two instances of abuse to his brother. In text messages, he told his brother that the incidents were "nothing serious" and "just a bit of fiddling."

Akhtar later accused people of "trying to stitch him up." He denied any instances of touching, but during the trial, he admitted to exposing himself to the victim twice.

The jury found him guilty of all six charges filed against him.

In a statement, the victim said that the abuse took over her whole life. She said that she felt withdrawn, confused and ashamed as a child, preferring to hide at the back of a classroom, not wanting to talk.

She described herself as a "recluse" and said it has affected her relationship with her husband, as well as her own children. She also said that she suffers from anxiety and depression.

Akhtar's lawyer said he has no previous convictions and is a man of "exceptional character."

In addition to his three-year prison sentence, a restraining order was imposed on Akhtar, prohibiting him from contacting the victim indefinitely. He will also have to sign the sex offenders register.

"These offenses had a profound impact on [the victim] throughout her life," recorder Alexandra Simmons said. "She has been devastated by your actions. The long-lasting impact cannot be overstated."

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