VICTIMS of those carrying the scars of sexual abuse at the hands of one of the most depraved paedophiles the Isle of Wight has ever seen, bravely and poignantly shared their harrowing experiences in the courtroom.

Jonathan Richard Maertens, of Richmond Meade, Freshwater, was given life imprisonment after raping and abusing girls as young as four years old.

The prolific sexual predator, 35, hung his head in shame throughout yesterday's (Monday) hearing at the Isle of Wight Crown Court.

Maertens sexually abused nine youngsters over a period of more than nine years, from 2011 — filming his sickening attacks on an eyewear camera and other devices. 

  • If you have been a victim of child abuse, or have any information about this type of abuse, contact police on 101​
  • Alternatively, contact Child Line on 0800 11 11 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

At least three of his victims were given a noxious substance to render them 'effectively unconscious' and Maertens abused some of his victims for more than an hour, while asleep under the influence of drugs, said Rebecca Fairbairn, prosecuting.

Several of Maertens's victims wished to have their statements read to the court.

One of the victims, known only as 'Child 2', was raped and abused on film — only discovering the truth from the police recently.

She said: "Having been told by the police there are videos of me being abused, rocked my world.

"What happened to me? I can ask that question because I do not know what was done to me.

"But the word 'rape' was used by the police. He raped me. I am suffering. I struggle to sleep.

"I have lost confidence in myself and in others and my mental and physical health has been affected.

"I cry a lot. I cry when I'm on my own. I feel alone and feel so upset.

"I get flashbacks. The thoughts I have are intrusive and make me feel disgusting.

"I have panic attacks and have even had suicidal thoughts."

Her thoughts are a common thread among Maertens's victims.

Aged 13 when she was raped, 'Child 5', now an adult, said: "I was told he filmed me when he did this to me, when I was asleep. It was a number of years ago.

"Since being told about what he did to me, I've been in shock.

"I feel angry and a loss of control with what has happened. He has stripped away my identity."

Another victim, known as 'Child 8', added: "Finding out what has happened to me has broken me. I have lost trust in every single man I know.

"I have never felt this lonely. Since finding out what has happened, my relationships with people have broken down.

"I've lost my job and my mental health has been so bad, I feel lost and empty.

"I can't sleep. I stay awake thinking about everything I've been told by the police."

Some of the victims were too young and drugged by Maertens to remember the crimes against them, but it has devastated families.

"I spend most days crying because I have nothing anymore."

The mother of 'Child 1', from Southampton, said the crimes against her daughter, aged four at the time, had turned her world upside down — especially after having her taken into care.

"What has happened in such a short space of time has been truly devastating — not only to me and my daughter, but also to my whole family," she said in her impact statement.

"My child has been removed from my care by child services for failing to protect her from something I had no idea was happening.

"It has been the most excrutiating pain I have ever experienced.

"After hearing my child say she wanted to come home, on my allowed access visits with her, I couldn't explain to her why she was taken away from me and put in care.

"It has been heartbreaking. I spend most days crying because I have nothing anymore.

"Every bit of normality we ever knew has been taken away by this evil paedophile.

"I can't sleep and eat because I have nightmares about what he did and could have done.

"He has had my daughter taken away from me and I don't feel I can trust in other people. I don't know if I will ever move past that.

"Now I have to take anti-depressants and am receiving counselling for the first time in my life.

"Maertens is the worst kind of person you could ever encounter. I am glad he's where he belongs — where he can never hurt another child.

"It doesn't give me any peace of mind knowing what he has done already to my daughter and not at one point did he find this morally wrong.

"He continued under my nose to abuse my innocent four-year-old, who trusted and loved him like a father figure and who I believed he loved as a daughter.

"I can't find the words to describe how distraught I've been. It's hard to find the words powerful enough to make anyone understand.

"I will hate him to my dying breath. He has taken everything.

"If I could turn the clock back, I would erase our memories of him in a heartbeat. He is disgusting — the lowest form of human.

"I hope he will not get an opportunity to harm anyone again."

A psychological report on 'Child 1' concluded she does not currently feel safe in relationships and exhibits anxiety and fearfulness and shows signs of post-traumatic stress.

"In order for her to recover from her adverse experiences and repair the harm caused to her functioning, she requires good, achieved parenting in a place which safeguards her from future harm," the report said.

"She will need help to make sense of her experience, another key to her recovery."