Wallington residents have reacted with anger at the discovery a “wicked” paedophile lived in their community for the past decade.

Peter Rowley, 62, of Wendling Road on the Roundshaw estate, was jailed for 14 years last week for sexually abusing a young girl 20 years ago.

The former painter and decorator claimed to have satanic powers as he raped the child then threatened to lock her in a box unless she kept silent.

As chilling details of his past emerged from the sentencing at Maidstone Crown Court, neighbours expressed worries that other children were put in danger.

Ann Wheatman, 53, a grandmother, glimpsed a sinister side to Rowley when he sent indecent images through her letterbox.

She said: “He was just vile, the neighbour from hell. Whenever my grandchildren were visiting in the summer we never let them use the paddling pool.

“Then I found out a child protection team was involved. I couldn’t tell anyone in the road and, if I had, the flats would probably have been smashed up. I felt really guilty. I was always watching him.

“Lately I covered his peephole or put Tippex over it when my grandchildren arrived. Now I’m just happy I can get on with my life.”

Dennis Read, 65, said: “It’s a complete shock. I used to see him wander up the road and wave.

“In today’s society you just don’t like to get involved. You could have a mass murderer living on your doorstep and you’d never know.”

Rowley, a chronic alcoholic, began molesting the girl in West Malling, Kent, in 1988, forcing her to perform sex acts before the rape.

He was condemned for forcing his victim to relive her ordeal by denying rape, another serious sexual offence and four charges of indecent assault.

Passing sentence, judge Charles Macdonald told him: “You sought to ensure her silence by threatening her. You threatened her with satanic powers. Because of her young age, she believed you.

“For some 20 years she lived with these matters as secrets. The effect on her emotional development has been extremely adverse and serious.”

Eloise Marshall, for the prosecution, said Rowley accepted he must have committed the offences but was still unable to admit it to himself. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life and banned from working with children.