A CHILD rapist has been locked up for 15 years after being found guilty of abusing two young victims 20 years ago.

Anthony Wead, who was accused of targeting the youngsters in the late 1990s, remained impassive as the sentence was passed at Teesside Crown Court, via videolink to Durham Prison.

His two victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sat in the public gallery throughout the hearing.

Judge Stephen Ashurst warned a woman in the public gallery that she would be removed from the courtroom of she made another comment towards the victims after they made a complaint about her behaviour.

Robin Patton, prosecuting, told the court that the victims had suffered significant psychological damage as a result of Wead's sexual abuse when he himself was a teenager.

Mr Patton said one had difficulty forming and retaining relationships as a direct result of the abuse.

He said the other victim felt "disgusted" about what had happened but didn't really understand the level of the damage until they became a parent.

Wead, of Chandos Street, Darlington, was found guilty of two charges of rape against one victim and one charge of rape and another of sexual assault on the other following a trial at the same court.

Paul Abrahams, for Wead, said there was limited mitigation as the defendant had been found guilty after trial but urged the judge to bear in mind that Wead was just a teenager himself at the time of the offences.

Judge Ashurst said both victims had suffered "severe psychological harm" as a result of Wead's abuse almost two decades ago.

He said: "The impact of your behaviour on both victims has been extremely serious. I'm satisfied that your actions caused severe psychological harm to both victims.

"In reality, a lot of these offences took place 20 years ago but they have had to suffer in silence all of their lives. It's a burden they have had to carry with them and it has affected their lives and relationships with others.

"There has been no acknowledgement of guilt or remorse for the suffering that you caused."

Wead was sentenced to two eight year terms for rape with a consecutive six year term for the third rape. He was given an additional two year concurrent sentence for the sexual assault and an additional one-year extended licence period.

He was also issued with an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and ordered to sign on the sexual offenders' register until further notice upon his release from prison.