His victim, now 40, described David Littlewood as a “monster” after seeing him jailed for 10 years at Hull Crown Court yesterday.
She was cycling along a footpath near the river Hull on her way to feed some horses on July 9, 1979, when Littlewood blocked her path, threatened her with a knife and told her would kill her before taking her onto a grassed area to assault her.
Despite a large-scale police investigation at the time, Littlewood escaped justice until Operation Fox, a review of unsolved serious sex attacks, was launched by Humberside Police two years ago.
A full DNA profile of the girl’s attacker was established from material stored by the Forensic Science Service.
It was placed on the national database but a match was not found until last September after Littlewood was arrested for an unrelated matter.
A search of his home in Marshington Close, Hull, revealed thousands of indecent images of young girls on his computer – and a video he had made in 1994 of two 10-year-old girls whom he had plied with drink in various states of undress.
Det Supt Dena Fleming, who led the inquiry, said the attack had a devastating effect on the victim.
“This victim was a child at the time this happened to her. I cannot imagine the fear she must have felt being confronted by a man with a knife, wearing bags on his hands, and threatening to kill her.
“He took away her childhood, gave her fears no one should have to experience, and ruined her adult life as well.
She added: “She would be the first to admit that she was damaged and has suffered considerably.
“She has been extremely brave to co-operate with this investigation.
“As always in these historical cases the offender has had a normal life. The victim has not. She has had to endure the many painful memories. She had a very difficult life and changed from being a normal nine-year-old to a very disturbed child with behavioural problems. At 17 she tried to kill herself.”
She added: “The victim was in court and she was absolutely delighted by this result.”
Littlewood, 56, pleaded guilty to kidnap and indecent assault, making 17,000 indecent images of girls aged between two and 10 – 3,000 of which were at the most serious end of the scale – and one count of making an indecent video.
Det Supt Fleming said she was relieved Littlewood was behind bars: “This horrendous attack on a small child happened in 1979, the video clip that was made by Littlewood can be dated at some time in the 1990s and the images on his computer show current activity.
“All of that adds up to the fact that Littlewood had an interest in children all of his adult life.
“I am extremely pleased this offender has been removed from society and stopped from being able to have any contact with children.
“Hopefully that is some small consolation to this victim.”