A Dereham man who sexually abused and ill-treated children has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

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Martin Welch, 52, from Norwich Street, was found guilty at trial last month of 11 counts of child cruelty and sexual offences against children.

He appeared for sentencing at Norwich Crown Court yesterday on four counts of cruelty to children, three counts of indecent assault on a child, sexual assault on a child, indecent assault on a child, and two counts of sexual activity with a child.

Judge Mark Lucraft told Welch that his actions had been “degrading” and “abusive”.

Some of the offences were carried out in other parts of the country as well as in Dereham, where Welch lived from about 2005.

Judge Lucraft said: “What you did was overbearing and bullying. It was degrading and abusive.

“The cruelty towards four children spanned a long period of time.”

Welch was also handed an indefinite sexual offences prevention order, which bans him from having any unsupervised contact with children under 16.

Michael Clare, for Welch, asked the court to take into account his client’s “somewhat testing circumstances during the relevant period”. He added that Welch had suffered four heart attacks.

He said Welch had come to court with a bag and was expecting a custodial sentence.

The court heard that Welch had two previous convictions – one in 1994 for theft and road traffic offences, and another in 1999 for being drunk and disorderly.

He will serve half of the sentence and remain on licence for the remainder of the time.

david.bale2@archant.co.uk

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