A predatory paedophile who molested a five-year-old girl in the corner of a 99p shop just yards away from her mother was yesterday jailed for six years.
Sick Stephen Reynolds, 53, pounced on the youngster as she sat on the floor of the shop reading a childrens’ book on New Year’s Eve.
He enticed her to an area of the shop out of view of CCTV cameras just seconds after her mother left the girl and her four-year-old brother to shop for party food and plates.
Reynolds assaulted the youngster while her mother browsed in an adjacent aisle leaving her with a scratch on her stomach.
The victim’s mother found her distressed daughter wandering the store alone and said she had been touched by a strange man.
CCTV cameras in the nearby Brunel shopping centre had earlier filmed Reynolds looking into the Early Learning Centre for around 20 minutes.
Timothy Hills, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court yesterday (Thurs) the attack happened when the family entered the 99p store at around 2.50pm on New Year’s Eve.
He said: ”The victim knew her way around and while her mother went off to look for some paper plates and biscuits for a forthcoming party she and her brother sat quietly in the aisle.
”The defendant had come into the store within a minute of the victim and her family. He approached the victim when she was sitting in the aisle and bent down appearing to pick something up.
”He entered into a conversation with the victim and led her into a corner of the shop.
”She said: ‘He touched me under my knickers. He was tickling. I didn’t like it. It made me cry.’ ”
In a video interview with police, Reynolds said he had asked the girl to move to a place further back in the shop out of range of the CCTV camera.
The victim gave a statement to police the day after the incident. In a witness statement read to the court, her mother said: ”She had nightmares about the man who touched her.”
Chris Smyth, mitigating, said: ”Reynolds had pleaded guilty to spare his victim giving evidence in a trial.”
Recorder David Bartlett sentenced Reynolds to four-and-a-half years for the assault and 18 months for breaking a life-long sexual offences prevention order making a total of six years’ imprisonment.
He also ordered Reynolds, of Lechlade, Glos., to remain on licence for 12 years.
He said: ”You showed astonishing bravado in going up to a five-year-old child who you didn’t know and taking her away from her brother and assaulting her in such a public place.
”The agony that her mother must have felt when she was aware her daughter was away from her brother and she didn’t know where she was.
”You said you deserve to be in prison for the hurt and emotional pain you have caused the victim and her family. You have that right.”
The victim’s mother wept and hugged friends as the verdict was read in court.