Stephen Butterly, who was 18 at the time, groomed his victim before going on to have sex with her.
Butterly, now 43, of Newlands Road, Riddings, Alfreton, originally denied an offence of unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13 in 1990 but changed his plea to guilty on the third day of his trial at Nottingham Crown Court. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.
The jury heard that at the time the girl did not realise that what happened was wrong and it was only years later that she made a complaint.
Judge Stuart Rafferty QC, passing sentence at Lincoln Crown Court on Tuesday, told Butterly: “You were faced with very clear evidence of what had happened and on the third day of your trial you entered a plea of guilty. You should have pleaded long before.
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“You were a young man when this offence was committed and you had an interest in young girls.
“The girl was a virgin. You had unprotected sexual intercourse with her having groomed her for some time. I have no doubt that you set out to woo her and have sex with her.
“Despite the fact that you were 18 at the time it must have been very apparent to you that she was still a very young person. Undoubtedly she was hurt and damaged psychologically by it.”
The court was told that the victim, now in her 30s, has since suffered from mental health problems.
Gurdial Singh, in mitigation, said that Butterly accepted there was an element of grooming in his behaviour as he had befriended the young girl.
He said “The reality is that a custodial sentence is inevitable.
“The only mitigation is that at the time he was just 18 years old.”