A self-styled hypnotherapist and spiritual healer from Birmingham who sexually abused young women during naked “spiritual” massage sessions has been jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

Judge William Davis QC told pervert Peter Knight: “You abused a position of trust time and time again. You set yourself up as a hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and spiritual healer, pretending you had qualifications you did not. You preyed on vulnerable and credulous women who happened to have young female children who you preyed upon.

“Your victims by and large had mothers plainly in your thrall and through them you got to their children.”

He said the “distress and anguish” of the victim most seriously abused was evident to all as she gave evidence.

Knight, 75, found guilty of 16 charges of indecent assault and three of indecency with a child following a trial last month, was ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

John Attwood, prosecuting, said Knight took advantage of the power he had over his patients to indulge his sexual desires. He said the offences took place in the 80s and 90s when Knight provided a variety of treatments from addresses in Lansdown Road, Erdington, and Selsey Road, Edgbaston.

Knight gave counselling, hypnotherapy, massage and tarot card readings.

Mr Attwood said those who went to see him were vulnerable and needy and although he helped some. the defendant had a darker side, being manipulative and predatory.

Two of the victims were sisters and Knight had treated their mother, giving her private lessons in tarot reading.

He said during hypnotherapy sessions, after telling them to relax and close their eyes, Knight persuaded both the girls to lie naked on a treatment table.

Knight then, with both victims “at his mercy”, indecently assaulted them during massage sessions, which he claimed were for their spiritual wellbeing.

Mr Attwood said another young girl who Knight abused during naked massage sessions was told by him the eczema she suffered from would return if she told anyone else what was going on.

Knight, who had denied the charges, had claimed that he did not have any sexual interest in the young girls.

David Mason, defending, said Knight was not a well man and that they were old offences.

He said since he had suffered a stroke in 2006 he had not treated anybody for anything and that for him prison would be very difficult.