A serial child abuser who drove one of his young victims to attempt to take her own life has been jailed for 15 years, with an extended one year licence.
David Swift, 61, of Moss House Lane, Stalmine, near Blackpool, denied the sickening string of 16 charges against him, but was convicted after a trial at Preston Crown Court, which was told he abused the three children between the 1970s and 1990s.
His brave victims, who were supported in the public gallery, smiled as the sentence was passed.
Swift, wearing a green shirt, sat in the dock with his hands clasped as Judge Andrew Woolman said: " The effect on the victims is very considerable indeed."
Swift was found guilty of 13 counts of indecent assault, two of indecency with a child and one of sexual assault, relating to three young girls.
Many charges were specimen counts which means the charge reflects his behaviour happened on several occasions.
Judge Woolman continued: "Most are multiple counts, but they do altogether represent abuse on dozens, if not hundreds of occasions - the precise number is impossible to work out."
The first offences date back to the early 1970s when Swift, then a teenager, abused the girl when she was aged nine and 10, including getting net to "perform tasks on high shelves" and touching her inappropriately.
The second offences started in 1999, when Swift started to abuse a young girl when she was aged 12 upwards, sometimes while she sat at a computer.
A third child, aged as young as nine, fell victim to him over a similar period of time
During the trial, the court was told two of the girls were vulnerable as a result of experiences they had had with a relative, and that Swift had exploited that.
When one girl came forward in 2008, Swift denied his crimes, causing her to withdraw her allegations.
Describing the effects of his abuse as " extremely severe", Judge Woolman added: " That did great damage to her as a person.
"The account of repeated self harm and suicide attempts makes desperate reading, and it is not an exaggeration to say her whole life has been blighted by your actions, and no doubt she has suffered very severe psychological harm.
The court was told relatives and friends of Swift. who has no previous convictions, had written letters in support of him, but that they did little to 'mitigate' what he had done.
When he is half way through his sentence, the parole board will decide whether or not he can be released on licence, and if he is, he will be on licence for the rest of the 15 years, plus a further year on top.
He must also sign the sex offenders register for life.
Speaking after the hearing, Det Con Sarah Chadwick of Lancashire Police said, “This result would not have been possible were it not for the strength of those people who have come forward and spoken out about what David Swift did to them.
"It has been a long and difficult process for them but I hope that the sentence today brings them some comfort.
"Swift has finally had to face the consequences of his actions. He psychologically manipulated the people he abused in order to get away with his crimes over several years.
"I hope he spends his time in prison reflecting on the impact his crimes have had on the complainants.”