A New Zealand man will spend at least 19 years in a British prison for raping and abusing five young girls, who all remembered him by his distinctive accent.

Martin Lindsay Thomas, 63, was sentenced in the Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday after he was found guilty of raping or indecently assaulting five girls, aged between six and 10.

The assaults occurred during a 10-year period.

When jailing Thomas for 19 years with a possible extension of six years, Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, apologised to the jury who had to listen to the details of the case, the Torquay Herald Express reports.

Thomas was convicted of raping three of the girls, after they told the court almost identical stories of abuse.

He was found guilty of one incident of sexual assault and one of indecency with a child in the other cases.

Thomas, who was trusted by the girls' parents, lured them to his home and forced them to take part in sex acts with him.

All of his victims remembered him by his distinctive accent, which they mistakenly thought was Australian.

Originally from New Zealand, Thomas is now living in Brixham, in the southwest of England.

All of the victims, the youngest of whom is now 12, were visibly upset by the trauma of giving evidence, the Herald Express reports.

"We were helped by the fact that the victims were prepared to go to court and give evidence," Torbay Detective Inspector Stuart Murray said.

"The trial, and reliving these experiences, is equally traumatic for the victims and they were very brave."