A "depraved" paedophile who drugged a ten-year-old Indian girl in Goa so he could film himself raping her has had his life sentence overturned by top judges on appeal.

Barry Charles McCloud, 54, was jailed for life at St Albans Crown Court in December last year after admitting a catalogue of sexual offences, including rape, sexual assault and making indecent photographs of children.

But lawyers for McCloud, of Tudor Walk, Watford, claimed discretionary life sentences should be reserved for even more serious criminals, and brought his case to the Court of Appeal.

Three senior judges, sitting at the London court, today agreed to replace his life term with a less draconian sentence of imprisonment for public protection (IPP).

The sentence still means McCloud will have to serve at least seven years behind bars and will only be freed once the Parole Board is convinced the danger he poses to the public has passed. However, he will be able to apply to lift licence conditions 10 years after his release.

Mr Justice Treacy, sitting with Lord Justice Pitchford and Judge William Davis QC, said McCloud had sponsored a young boy in India after he and his wife visited Goa.

But, following the couple's separation, McCloud returned to the resort between 2005 and 2006 and had a ten-year-old relation of the boy to his apartment to stay.

The judge said nothing was discovered about what he did to the girl until 2007, when he was arrested for downloading images of child abuse.

Along with the sick images police found on McCloud's computer, they also uncovered a folder of pictures of the young girl and a DVD containing footage of him abusing her, the court heard.

In what the sentencing judge branded "utterly depraved" and "abhorrent" abuse, officers discovered McCloud had drugged the girl with temazepam so he could rape her.

Jo Sidhu, for McCloud today, told the court a discretionary life sentence was not merited in his case, because he had restricted the abuse to one victim and not gone after other children.

Allowing McCloud's appeal and downgrading his sentence today, Mr Justice Treacy said: "We have reached the conclusion that, grave as these offences were, they were not so egregious as to require a term of life imprisonment."