A man who abused his position of trust within a Wallington group of Jehova’s Witnesses and sexually abused three young girls has been jailed.

Michael John Hewitt, of Omaha Way in Devon, was sentenced to 15 years after being found guilty on eight counts of indecency with children – all under 16 years old at the time – on March 12.

Croydon Crown Court heard that he abused his victims across several decades while living at an address in Demesne Road, Wallington, during the 1980s as a member of the Jehovah Witness Congregation.

Detective Constable Janet Williams said: “The victims were abused by Hewitt at a very early age. Only when they were older were they able to understand what Hewitt subjected them to.

“Hewitt abused his position of trust to exploit the young girls for his own satisfaction.

"I would like to pay tribute to the victims who had the courage to report these distressing crimes to police. I hope today's conviction gives the victims a measure of comfort and closure.”

Two of Hewitt’s victims were as young as five when it began and he sexually abused all three in both his and their addresses while remaining undetected by family members, before selling his Sutton home to move to Devon.

After two victims reported the incidents to a relative who then contacted the police, he was arrested and later bailed pending further enquiries in January 2016.

A third victim was identified and came forward while Hewitt was investigated for two similar offences by the Met’s child abuse and sexual offences command.

He was then charged with 11 counts of indecency with girls under 16 in May 2017 but was acquitted of three.

Judge Flahive at Croydon Crown Court said he was a ‘significant risk’ to young children and a ‘dangerous offender’.

Hewitt will remain on the sex offenders register for life and have both a sexual harm prevention order and restraining order served.