A PENSIONER has been jailed for 22 years after admitting 23 historic child sex abuse charges.
Christopher Francis, 70, of Palmerston Mews, Bournemouth, was handed the sentence and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life at Chelmsford Crown Court this afternoon.
Francis was living in the Maldon area in the 1970s and 80s when the offences, which relate to four victims aged between five and 15, took place.
The offences came to light when Francis, was arrested during a separate investigation by Dorset Police in 2015.
In December 2016 Essex Police charged Francis with 23 sexual offences against children.
At a hearing at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, February 24, Francis pleaded guilty to two counts of rape, eleven counts of indecency with a child, eight counts of indecent assault, and two counts of taking indecent photographs of a child.
Handing down her sentence Judge Emma Peters described Francis as a “predatory, grooming, callous and evil paedophile abuser”.
She said: “This is an unthinkable, vile system of cruelty and abuse that was subjected to these children.
“You are a predatory, grooming, callous and evil paedophile abuser.
“Not only did you abuse these children yourself, you made them abuse each other, a dark and hideous aspect of your offences.
“The mathematical numbers on your sentence today can in no way reflect the impact and damage you have done to these children.
"Having read all of their statements and letters, I commend them for showing such strength and dignity in the face of your evil.”
She added: “If you are to survive your sentence, the police will be looking over your shoulder every step of the way, and I hope this brings some small measure of comfort to your victims and punishment for your callous actions.”
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Carol Astbury, said: "Christopher Francis is a dangerous abuser who subjected his victims to evil crimes over several years.
"They were young and vulnerable and he took advantage of them.
"I want to praise the bravery of his victims in coming forward and for their courage throughout this process. 
"I hope this sentence provides them with some solace. 
"Fortunately by admitting his guilt, Francis has spared them having to re-live their abuse through a court case.
"I need anyone who has been affected by this case to come forward and speak to us.
"We take reports of sexual assault and abuse very seriously, no matter when they took place, and anyone who comes forward to report an offence will be treated with sensitivity.”
More to follow.