A CHILD abuser was behind bars tonight – more than two decades after he thought he had got away with his crimes.

Paul Knappett, now 53, left the North-East for a new life in the south and believed he had taken his secrets with him.

But when one of his victims heard he had married and had children of his own, she called police.

Knappet was arrested at his new home in Suffolk and confessed to abusing a boy and a girl in Stockton in the late 1980s.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the crimes had left his victims psychologically scarred.

He once effectively acted as a pimp and took the boy to a friend's home and ordered him to take part in a sex act.

Prosecutor David Crook told the court that the youngster fought back and reported what had happened.

The boy was not believed and Knappett, formerly from the Hardwick estate in Stockton, escaped unpunished.

Mr Crook said the girl was too afraid to tell what had been happening to her, and still carries the guilt of staying silent.

In a victim impact statement, she told of how she thought the abuse was normal until she had sex education at school.

The other victim said: “I hate him for what he did to me. I would like Paul Knappett to know he has destroyed my life.

“He took away my childhood . . . I have suffered continuously while he has got on with his life.”

Knappett's barrister, Victoria Lamballe, said he described his actions as “unforgivable” and recognised the damage he caused.

Knappett, of Cambridge Road, Lowestoft, admitted three charges of indecent assault and two of indecency.

He was also put on the sex offenders' register for life and banned from having unsupervised contact with under-16s.