A convicted paedophile who sexually abused a six year- old girl has been set free by a judge who suggested he give his victim money to ‘buy a nice new bicycle‘.
Pensioner Eric Cole, who had already served jail terms for sex attacks, admitted putting his hand down the girl’s trousers as she stood in her garden.
Judge Julian Hall told him: “In criminal terms, what you did was quite mild.” He then revealed that the 71- year-old would be given a suspended sentence.
Cole was already a convicted paedophile when he attacked the girl last July.
Despite this he was allowed to walk from the court and, as the sentence was passed, the victim’s angry relatives hurled abuse and threats from the public gallery.
The court had earlier been told how the girl’s mother had found Cole pushing his hands down her trousers in a garden in Barton, Oxon, on July 31 last year.
After initially denying the allegation, Cole admitted his guilt on January 4 this year.
The pensioner, who now lives at Church Street, Bedford, had been jailed for 15 months for a previous sex attack on a 12-year-old girl in 1998.
Sentencing him at Oxford Crown Court Judge Hall said: “In criminal terms what you did was quite mild, but the effects were serious.
“If you are not to do this sort of thing again, then you need help.
“The greater chance of children being protected from you in the long term is a Sex Offenders’ Prevention Order.” He imposed a nine-month suspended jail term on Cole as well as ordering him to attend a sexual offenders’ programme.
He also banned Cole from being alone with children under the age of 16, for five years.
Ordering Cole to pay £250 compensation to his victim he added: “If it buys her a nice new bicycle, that’s the sort of thing that might cheer her up.” Judge Hall hit the headlines in September 2006 when he left the courtroom in tears mid-way through reading a statement written by a bereaved mother whose daughter had been killed in a car crash.
Two months later he told a teenager, who had run along Oxford’s Abingdon Road wielding a machete after a family dispute: “We can’t have you threatening your family whenever you feel a bit cross.” As one of the girl’s family shouted at Cole: ‘You haven’t heard the last from me, mate’ the judge told the court ‘I hear the calls, but I ignore them’.
He added: “I have explained I am certain in my own mind this is the best way to protect girls under 16 from the hands of this man.