A Dunedin man who sexually abused his daughter and tortured her when she did not comply with his twisted demands has been jailed for four years.

The teenage victim had not seen her father for years. Her parents had broken up when she was young, she told the court.

In a statement she spoke of her initial excitement about getting to know him after their long estrangement, but her joy soon turned to terror.

The defendant, aged in his 30s, had his identity permanently suppressed to protect the identity of his daughter when he appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

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The intellectually disabled girl - described in court documents as ''easily manipulated'' - began seeing him regularly and from July 2014 the depraved conduct began.

If the victim ''misbehaved'' he would force her to dress up in an adult-themed maid's outfit belonging to his wife.

She was not allowed underwear and when she voiced her reluctance, the defendant ordered her to wear the garment around the house while she did chores.

The man's wife and their children were present at the time, a police summary of facts stated.

He even made her don the outfit occasionally when they left the house.

''This is getting you used to it for when you are older and when you have a boyfriend,'' her father told her.

The victim said she was frightened of her father and embarrassed by what he made her do.

''I felt frightened to say 'no'. If I said 'no', he would find another punishment for me,'' she said.

On one occasion she was told to strip naked, had her hands and feet bound and was forced to stand in front of a heat pump blasting out cold air for several hours.

During the eight-month period of trauma, she once vomited on the explicit costume while wearing it, the summary said.

Her father simply made her change into a Playboy-bunny outfit ''complete with bunny ears'' instead.

When the victim's mother turned up to pick her up, the defendant frantically had her change into her other clothes.

The girl was also forced to massage the man as he lay nude on the bed - it happened ''lots'', she told police.

While they were apart, the defendant sent his daughter messages calling her ''sexy'' and referring to her genitalia.

''It was really weird,'' she said.

When her mother noticed one of them, the man passed it off as someone else accessing his social-media account.

After the victim had come forward to police in November 2015, officers visited her father at his workplace and seized his phone.

A search warrant executed at his home turned up a camcorder and memory card.

On them, analysts found 106 images of his daughter, more than half of which were deemed objectionable.

They featured the victim in a variety of lewd poses and scanty outfits, documents revealed.

''Five images were copied to your cellphone allowing you unlimited and immediate access,'' Judge Michael Crosbie said.

A week before trial, the man pleaded guilty before briefly considering reversing his plea.

He was sentenced yesterday on three charges of sexual conduct with a girl under 16, 20 counts of making an objectionable publication and one of possessing such a publication.

Counsel Sarah Saunderson-Warner stressed her client now acknowledged his wrongdoing and was ''deeply sorry''.

But after reading letters the defendant had written, Judge Crosbie was unconvinced about his level of remorse.

''You say you were trying to punish her bad behaviour ... you accept you went the wrong way about doing it,'' he said.

''The way in which you have characterised your behaviour . . . falls way short of establishing you really understand what your behaviour was all about . . . What mistake on this Earth would justify that sort of behaviour is the question I have for you.''

The judge said he struggled to think of a case similar to it.

''It was depraved, it was degrading and it was demeaning . . . more than that it's exploitative conduct with an element of grooming present.''

The defendant's wife did not respond to a request for comment.