AN ISLE of Wight Crown Court judge who listened to distressing evidence of the sex crimes committed against nine youngsters, handed Jonathan Maertens a life sentence with a stark warning — "You may never be released".

The sick child rapist, of Richmond Meade, Freshwater, was handed a minimum 16 years' imprisonment after raping and abusing girls as young as four years old.

The court — which included a number of watching family members of the nine victims — was told about his sophisticated methods of filming, recording, editing and photographing the children over a period of almost ten years, from 2011.

  • 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.

A psychiatrist diagnosed Maertens as having a paedophilic mental disorder and, in his report to the court, concluded he showed no victim empathy and that he seemed not to realise the seriousness of his offences, the damage caused by them and the consequences in terms of the length of the sentence he was likely to receive.

The magnitude of Maertens's offending only came to light in June following a complaint by the parent of the first known victim, known only as 'Child 1'.

The youngster told her mother Maertens had touched her indecently, the court heard yesterday (Monday).

When sentencing Maertens, Judge Tim Mousley said: "Over a period of about ten years, you systematically, sexually abused nine young girls.

"Four of them were raped repeatedly. Most of the abuse took place when they were very young. Two of the girls were as young as four years old.

"In addition, there were other multiple forms of sexual abuse at three addresses, used at various times on the Isle of Wight and in Hampshire.

"You followed the same plan to abuse the girls. You took steps to isolate each child, so you were alone. Sometimes you were babysitting.

"You administered a noxious substance to at least three of them, to render them effectively unconscious, with 'Child 1' the exception. She was awake and showed signs of very obvious distress.

"You filmed and recorded the abuse, which was persistent and sustained. Sometimes it went on for more than an hour.

"During the course of the police investigation, an enormous quantity of indecent images were found. A very large quantity of them contained films you had recorded of your abuse of the girls.

"The impact of your offending on the children and their families cannot be understated. You ruined many lives.

"I've heard the evidence of how the children and their families had been affected and they speak very thoughtfully and sensibly and they all show enormous insight into how they feel.

"One can only hope though the passage of time there will be a degree of closure. Today is a very important day in that process.

"You are confident, deceitful, prolific and a manipulative sexual predator. All you were interested in was your own perverted sexual gratification.

"You have caused widespread misery and inflicted lasting harm. I suspect none of the families you have distressed will ever fully recover completely.

"Inevitably, only a long sentence of imprisonment is appropriate.

"I have to consider whether you are dangerous, in the sense you represent a significant risk of causing serious harm in the future.

"I have no hesitation in concluding you will commit further similar offences. I am equally satisfied you would cause serious physical and psychological harm to one or more people.

"You lack any insight into your offending — the nature of the offences, the vulnerability of the victims, the number of victims and your lack of victim empathy are all areas of particular concern.

"A life sentence would not be disproportionate, in light of the fact the offences were committed over a ten-year period.

"As well as victim empathy, there is an absence of any genuine remorse.

"There is also clear evidence of sexual preoccupation, including your sado-masochistic fantasies.

"You said you were fortunate you had been arrested so you could seek help.

"It seems to me you would not have done anything about these areas of your personality had you not been arrested — and you would have remained a danger.

"You dismissed your 'problem' to police as an addiction.

"There is no reliable estimate to how long you remain a danger. The appropriate sentence therefore is imprisonment for life.

"The absence of additional gratuitous violence is something I do not regard as a significant mitigating factor in this case, because it ignores the fact you used noxious substances — a very serious feature of this case. 

"That in itself amounts to a gross violation of the girls.

"The minimum term will be 16 years' imprisonment, which you will serve before the parole board consider your possible release.

"I emphasise this — it is important everybody in this case understands what that means. It is not a fixed term.

"You may never be released."