A pensioner has been jailed for subjecting a young girl to "systematic" sexual abuse.

Michael Brennan repeatedly sexually assaulted the child, who was too scared to report what was happening in case she was not believed.

A judge told him he had effectively condemned his victim to a "life sentence" of pain by what he had done to her.

Swansea Crown Court heard the abuse has had a devastating effect on the victim, turning her from a happy outgoing person to one who has lost all confidence in herself, and who was locked herself away from the world.

Carina Hughes, prosecuting, said Brennan repeatedly abused the girl - who was under 13 at the time - over a prolonged period, and there was an "element of grooming" in what he had done.

The assaults came to light in February this year when the victim finally revealed what had been happening.

In his subsequent police interview, Brennan, 67, denied the allegations.

Brennan, of Pen yr Alley Avenue, Skewen, Neath, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, and four counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity when he appeared in the dock. The charges are known as "specimen counts", which reflect a course of conduct rather than specific incidents.

In an impact statement read to court the victim said she had always been a "happy, outgoing girl who loved life" but the abuse at the hands of Brennan had change that.

She said she now struggled with self-confidence, found it hard to trust people, and had "locked myself away from the world, from friends, and from family".

She added she wanted to be "free of the torture he put in my head" but that it was always there.

Jon Tarrant, for Brennan, said the defendant was remorseful for what he had done - but the advocate accepted such a mitigation would carry only limited weight.

He said other than the "awful behaviour" which he had pleaded to, his client had led an "unremarkable and somewhat ordinary life" with no previous convictions.

Judge Geraint Walters told Brennan he had subjected the schoolgirl to "systematic and repeated sexual abuse" which "took away her innocence".

He said: "The true wickedness of behaviour of this sort is, much as she gets on with her life and tries to put it to the back of her mind, she can never erase it. As far as she is concerned it is a life sentence, in that sense. It may be that the pain will diminish but it will never truly go."

The judge sentenced him to an 11-year extended sentence as a dangerous offender, comprising 10 years in custody with a one-year extended licence. Brennan will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, and was made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.