A former lorry driver has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years for sexually abusing a young girl in Watford in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brian Holt, 69, of Garsmouth Way, on the Meriden Estate, was told by Judge Marie Catterson: "This was a sustained course of conduct by you on a little girl. The impact of the offences have been profound and long-lasting for her."

He was convicted by a jury of six charges of indecent assault and four of indecency with a child committed between 1968 and 1972. They were sample charges indicating a course of conduct over the years in Watford. He was cleared of four charges.

St Albans crown court heard that at the time he was aged between 24 and 29.

Prosecutor Wayne Cleaver said the victim, who is now 51, spoke to her father about what she said had gone on and he called the police. The woman was interviewed and told officers that the offences took place at two addresses in Watford and in the defendant's lorry.

Officers located Holt, who was arrested. He was taken to Watford police station, where he made no comment to police questions.

Mr Cleaver said the offences were aggravated because the conduct was repeated and the defendant told the victim not to tell anyone else what happened.

Defence barrister Toby Long said Holt, who wore a hearing loop in court, suffers from a number of medical conditions, including cancer of the lung and a heart condition.

He said he was convicted of very serious offences that happened more than 40 years ago. He has since married and has a son, who gave evidence on his behalf describing Holt as a good father.

Mr Long went on:  "On the jury's verdict his behaviour was wicked and he has blighted a life. At the time he was a very young man and a very different man. He has been a reliable husband for the past 35 years. His wife said to me today: 'I am supporting him as he has always supported me. What happened before me I don't know'."

Judge Catterson said that in modern times two of the indecent assault charges would be charged as rape of a child for which the maximum sentence is now life.

Holt must register as a sex offender for life.