TWO women who were sexually abused by a farmer when they were children have spoken of their “harrowing” ordeal.

The victims of former milkman John Durman are also hoping other alleged sufferers will be brave and come forward.

Durman, 74, of Moon Lane, North Newton, was found guilty of five counts of indecent assault dating back to the 1970s and 1980s following a trial last month.

In interview with the County Gazette this week, one of the victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, urged anybody who finds themselves in the same situation to speak out.

She said: “It was a horrific and harrowing ordeal. It's stressful and we got blamed in our own way [during cross examination]. We were accused of lying and making things up.

“If I knew what it entailed at the time I might not have come forward but I'm so glad I did.

“At least we have highlighted the fact that coming forward is not that bad and hopefully others will be brave and try to get justice, whatever their situation.”

Durman was given an 18-month suspended sentence for the offences.

During the three-week trial at Taunton Crown Court, Durman, who denied the allegations from the outset, was cleared of two other counts of indecent assault and two counts of rape.

Another victim, from Taunton, said: “I've heard he's telling people it was thrown out of court because he was found not guilty on some counts and because he hasn't gone to prison.

“An 18-month suspended sentence is not a lot - not for what he's put us through - but we know you can't carry anger and resentment around with you.

“He didn't get away scot free so it's still a positive outcome.”

The trial heard how Durman abused three young girls, all aged under 16 at the time.

Prosecutor Peter Coombe said some of the charges relate to offences in the 1970s, with others said to have taken place some ten years later.

The court was told that Durman was kiss, cuddle and feel one of the victims and treat them as if they were a lot older.

Durman denied this, but was found guilty unanimously by a jury on five of the nine counts.

As well as being given a suspended sentence for two years, he must also sign the Sex Offenders' Register for ten years.