A man who repeatedly raped a girl under 13 in Stratford has been jailed.

Paul Hunt, 35, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment at Snaresbrook Crown Court yesterday (June 29).

He had been found guilty of rape and sexual assault at the conclusion of a trial on June 16.

He was also issued with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The court heard how Hunt groomed the girl over the course of several visits to the house he was staying at in Stratford at the time.

On various occasions across a three-year period in the 2000s, Hunt raped and sexually assaulted the girl.

He told her that no one would believe her if she told anyone about the abuse, police said.

But in 2018 the girl, by now an adult, confronted Hunt and reported the matters to police.

Officers undertook an investigation which involved gathering evidence and witness statements from years previously.

Hunt was arrested but refused to answer questions during his police interview.

Det Insp Jeremy McDermott of the North East Command Unit said: "Hunt exploited and took advantage of a vulnerable child on numerous occasions. He told the victim that she would not be believed.

"Despite this, she showed commendable bravery in coming forward and providing such strong evidence to police and at the trial.

"I hope that the sentence handed down will bring her a small measure of comfort and a sense that justice has been done.

"I would like to encourage anyone who has been a victim of a sexual crime to come forward and speak to police; they will be supported and their voice too can be heard."