A DESPICABLE man who sexually abused three young girls for a number of years will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars following his sentencing last week.

John Kelk, 68, of Wingfield Road in Athersley South, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after he was jailed for 30 years last Friday following a trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

He was found guilty by a jury of a total of 22 charges including rape and sexual assault.

Kelk abused three victims over a number of years in sickening attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.

His charges included rape and sexual assault but the jury was also told of his physical abuse, which ranged from beating his victims to making one of them drink weed killer.

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Richard Canning, defending, said Kelk accepted the jury’s verdict but had been too scared to accept his actions as he was scared he would die in prison.

The allegations against Kelk originally came to light back in 2018 when one of the three victims reported what happened to her when she was just a child to her local police force.

Following an investigation by South Yorkshire Police, two further victims came to the force’s attention and Kelk was finally jailed last week.

The court were told that it wasn’t just sexual abuse that the now 68-year-old subjected the three young girls to - he also physically assaulted them.

On one occasion, he dragged one of the girls by her hair, before beating her and making her drink weed killer.

The court were also told how he ‘violated’ one of the victims with tools, including a screwdriver.

DC Nicola Milner, who investigated the case, has praised the victims for coming forward and giving evidence after Kelk forced them to testify in court.

“This was a particularly horrendous case and I am extremely pleased to know that Kelk is finally behind bars where he belongs after putting each of these victims through utterly horrific ordeals,” she said.

“Kelk’s abuse began for one of the victims when she was just seven years old and continued into her teens.

“The others were also just young teenagers when he committed these despicable acts.

“I am full of total admiration and respect for the victims, who have conducted themselves with remarkable courage and dignity throughout this investigation.

“While nothing can make up for what has happened to them, I hope that this significant sentence allows them to begin moving forward with the rest of their lives.”