A MAN has been jailed for seven years after sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl.

Paul Pothercery, 58, of Withy Close, Romsey, was convicted of six counts of sexual assault against a child under the age of 13 and five counts of taking explicit photographs of a child under the age of 13.

Pothercery was sentenced to seven years for the sexual assault and 18 months for the explicit photos, which will run concurrently.

Pothercery pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against him during a trial at Southampton Crown Court. He was found guilty by a jury of eight men and four women.

The court heard how Pothercery had forced the child to wear stockings before he photographed her on his mobile phone.

Jane Terry, prosecuting, told the court that Pothercery threatened the child by saying “she would never see her family again” if she told anybody about the offences.

However, the child later broke down and told her grandfather details of what had happened.

Reading out a statement made by the grandfather, Miss Terry said: “I have never heard her say anything like this before.

“I feel a range of emotions from shame to utter despair.”

Defending Pothercery, Jodie Mittell said that the child was “a more mature 10-year-old than most expect” and that there was “obviously a psychological effect” for the child.

In sentencing, Judge Peter Ralls QC told Pothercery: “This is a serious matter against a little girl.”

A sexual harm prevention order was made against Pothercery, who will be on the sex offenders’ register and could be released on licence after serving more than half of his sentence.

A restraining order was also made to ensure Pothercery did not contact the child.

After the case, an NSPCC spokesperson said Pothercery was “a clear danger to young children” and that it was “right that he is behind bars”.

The spokesperson added: “We hope that Pothercery’s victim has received this support and will continue to do so.”