A rapist who pretended to be a ghost to take advantage of his victim’s fear has been jailed for 26 years.
Liam Clarke, 35, was handed the sentence after being convicted of 16 sexual offences against children, including rape, in Hampshire and Devon between 1997 and 2016.
Exeter Crown Court heard that Clarke, of Crediton, Devon, knew one of his victims was terrified of evil spirits and used her fear to manipulate her into having sex with him.
He made noises at night to terrify the 15-year-old and pushed notes under her bedroom door claiming to be from the ghost, threatening her that the only way to get rid of it was by having sex with him.
Judge David Evans told Clarke: “You made deliberate use of her deep fear of ghosts and spirits.”
Devon and Cornwall Police said Clarke was found guilty of 16 offences including rape of a child, sexual assault and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
The charges relate to three victims, with offences being committed in Hampshire and Devon dating from 1997 to 2016.
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Clarke, who was arrested in July 2017, was sentenced to 26 years imprisonment with additional two year extended licence for the offences committed, Devon & Cornwall Police said.
DC Katy King, from the force’s Public Protection Unit, said: “This has been a long and complex investigation involving historical sexual abuse over a number of years by Clarke.
“It has been an extremely traumatic and emotional time for all three victims. He has been on remand since July 2017 and this result finally provides these vulnerable victims with some closure.
“They have shown resilience and patience throughout the investigation. It is hoped that they can draw strength from the verdict and can live knowing that they have done everything they can to help protect others.
“We wish to thank everyone who has worked hard in achieving this justice.”