A CHRISTIAN'S sexual abuse of a 10-year-old Brownie was hushed up' by the church for over 24 years, a court has been told.

Victor Steynor, 64, who twice put his hand up the girl's top when her Brownie pack visited the home he hired out for adventure weekends, was reported by the girl.

However, her parents and their church dealt with the matter in house' instead of calling police.

It was only by chance when a former deacon of Ledbury Baptist Church spoke to a teacher who had links to the family that the events of 1983 emerged, magistrates in Cheltenham were told.

A district judge sentenced Steynor to three years of rehabilitation under the supervision of the probation service.

Prosecutor Sharon Jomaa told the court that the Brownie, now a 34-year-old woman, was touched when she visited Dyke House in Bromsberrow Heath for a weekend adventure trip on June 7, 1983.

He earned a living from hiring out the address for both Brownie and Christian outdoor adventure holidays and seized his chance to get the girl alone when she asked to borrow some equipment.

Ms Jomaa said: "She reported it to her mother. The incident was dealt with in-house. There was a meeting with a church elder. It was dealt with and hushed up. She said she was made to feel she was making a mountain out of a mole-hill."

Judi Peachey, defending, said: "His life has been completely devastated and ruined by this matter being brought up again.

"He thought the matter had been dealt with at the time.

"He spoke to the girl's mother and various other people and social services were informed. He is genuinely sorry that she was upset and feels it was a misunderstanding."

Deputy district judge Neil Pattinson said: "This was an assault on a 10-year-old girl. It was sexual touching. If you had any previous convictions or if this had been a prolonged assault I would have been sending this matter to crown court for sentence."

Steynor will be on the sex offender's register for five years and was ordered to pay £455 prosecution costs.