LONDON (Reuters) - A British man was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for repeatedly raping his two daughters over a 25-year period, fathering seven children by them during years of violence and abuse.
A court in Sheffield, northern England, heard that the 56-year-old took pleasure in the harm he did to his daughters, whom he began abusing at the age of eight, threatening them with violence if they refused to have sex with him, Britain's Press Association reported.
The violence, abuse and incest -- the man made his daughters pregnant a total of 19 times -- recall the case of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian rapist who kept his daughter locked in a dungeon for 24 years, fathering seven children by her.
"When either one of his victims tried to end the sexual abuse, he threatened to kill them and their children, and when they threatened to tell police, he said they would not be believed," lawyer Nicholas Campbell told the court.
The man, whose son described him as having a 'Jekyll and Hyde' personality that could turn to anger in a split second, made his elder daughter pregnant seven times. She bore four children but two of them died after birth.
He made his younger daughter pregnant 12 times. She has five surviving children, the court heard.
The father and daughters cannot be named for legal reasons.
The court heard that the father would hold his younger daughter's face close to a fire, singeing her eyes, if she refused to do what he told her to, and at other times he held a knife to her throat, threatening to kill her.
A doctor once asked one of the daughters if her father was also the father of her child, but she lied, the court heard.
"The victims were too frightened to tell anyone, even their mother," Campbell said. "The defendant played Russian roulette as to whether there would be complications in the pregnancies and with the health of his daughters."
The judge sentenced the man to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 19-1/2 years.
(Reporting by Luke Baker; editing by Tim Pearce)