A YOUNG girl has been praised after bravely speaking up about being raped, which resulted in her attacker being jailed last week.

John Mcdonald (72) of High Ridley, Haltwhistle, has been ordered to spend eight years behind bars for carrying out the attack on the girl, who was under 13 years old, on February 20 this year.

Detective Constable Danielle Grant, who investigated the case, said she was in awe of the strength that the young victim showed throughout.

She said: “The young victim’s bravery in this case was astounding. She bravely disclosed the vile abuse to her family later that day and then summoned every ounce of courage she possessed to open up again to police.”

McDonald initially denied the offence, but later confessed and pleaded guilty to one count of rape when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on March 10.

Last Tuesday a judge sentenced him to seven years in prison, with a one-year extended licence period, and ordered McDonald to sign the sex offenders’ register for life.

Before handing down the sentence, the judge heard a statement written by the victim’s mother. She said: “I can’t even began to think how this will affect my daughter in terms of developing romantic relationships as she gets older, how her confidence has been affected, her innocence taken from her far too soon. These are all things my daughter has to live with every day.

“The harm he has done to my daughter and our family will never be able to be quantified. It can never be undone, nor has it finished as we all have to live with it for the rest of our lives.

“I hope the sentence that is given to him has the same impact on him, where it affects him and limits him for the rest of his life.”

DC Grant added: “This incident has had, and will continue to have, a devastating effect on his victim’s life. I hope that the sentence will provide some comfort to her and her family and they can all now begin to move forward, comforted, at least a little, by the thought he is behind bars.”

Following the sentencing, an NSPCC spokeswoman said: “The trauma caused by rape is unimaginable, and it is vital that this brave young girl now receives all of the support she needs to rebuild her life. It is vital that anyone who has been sexually abused can speak out in the knowledge they will be listened to.

“Children can contact Childline, 24/7, on 0800 1111 or online, to talk about anything that’s worrying them. Adults wishing to report abuse, or concerns about the wellbeing of a child, can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000.”