Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh was found guilty of sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s. ((CBC))

Former Nova Scotia businessman Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh was sentenced to four years in jail on Tuesday for sexually abusing two boys in the 1970s.

He will get two years credit for time he has already spent in custody.

In July, Justice Simon MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court found MacIntosh guilty of abusing the men when they were between the ages of nine and 12.

MacIntosh, 67, a former Port Hawkesbury businessman, had been facing sentencing on 13 counts of gross indecency, indecent assault and other sex-related charges against two of his accusers — two cousins whose identities are protected by court order.

In handing down the sentence on Tuesday, MacDonald said it was important to send a message that society abhors the abuse of helpless children.

"There is no doubt that society must protect our children from people like you, Mr. MacIntosh, who perpetuate sexual conduct upon them," MacDonald said.

The judge also quoted from victim impact statements he'd received from the men.

"He [the victim] refers to his inability to trust others and lead a normal life," said MacDonald. "He says he even had thoughts about suicide. He says, 'What could my life have been had I not been subjected to these heinous acts?'"

Crown attorney Alicia Kennedy argued that MacIntosh should serve eight years in prison — five years for abusing one victim, and three years for the other.

Defence lawyer Brian Casey countered that MacIntosh should be sentenced to 18 months in jail for abusing the first man, and six months behind bars for the second man. He also said his client had already suffered under poor conditions at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth.

Next trial in December

Earlier on Tuesday, MacIntosh testified he was recently beaten up by two other prisoners.

"I'm … disappointed that there was not credit given for the particularly harsh circumstances of his remand," Casey said outside court.

"The practice has been that if somebody is confined to solitary confinement for reasons that aren't their fault — in the sense that they haven't done anything to deserve it — that additional credit should be given for that."

The doctor who wrote a sexual behaviour assessment of Macintosh also took the stand Tuesday.

Angela Connors testified that she considered MacIntosh "a low to moderate risk" to reoffend.

MacIntosh's first sentencing hearing earlier in September was adjourned when the defence objected to the sexual behaviour assessment.

During the trial, MacIntosh testified he had oral sex with two of the boys but said it was consensual. He said it happened in the late 1970s when they were at least 16 years old and above the age of consent.

MacIntosh was arrested in April 2007 near New Delhi, India, where he worked as a telecommunications specialist for 13 years. He was extradited to Canada two months later.

He faces a second trial in December, on another set of charges involving three more complainants from eastern Nova Scotia

With files from The Canadian Press