Paedophile jailed for terrifying attacks on young girls


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The Independent Online

A paedophile who snatched four girls from the street in the 1980s and 1990s, sexually abused them and then dumped them was jailed for 16 years today.

Balding grandfather David Bryant, 65, from Ulverston, Cumbria, felt "a sense of grievance" after being caught so long after the offences, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

He was sentenced for four terrifying attacks on victims in Hampshire and Tyneside.

He admitted kidnap and sexual assault after cold-case detectives made a DNA link to catch him 30 years after he first struck.

Judge James Goss, the Recorder of Newcastle, said: "All your victims were very young girls aged five or under.

"There was a distinct pattern to your offences. In each case you approached your victim near to where you were working at the time, took them to a place of privacy where you sexually assaulted them."

Bryant's offending against young girls was terrifying and became more serious as he continued to evade capture, with the mother of his final victim believing her daughter was dead as she had been missing for 17 hours.

In the first case in the early 1980s, he grabbed a girl aged five who was playing outside her Hampshire home from under the nose of her mother.

The girl's mother had gone into their house to get drinks for the children and when she returned her daughter had vanished.

Moments later, a couple reported they had found her and a man had run away.

He had taken her to a derelict house and committed a sex act over the child, leaving DNA evidence on her which would prove useful decades later.

Judge Goss told Bryant: "Your first victim's life has been deeply affected by your crimes.

"She became clingy, introverted, still lacks confidence and has received counselling.

"Both she and her mother have been traumatised by your offences."

The following year a three-year-old was snatched as she played with other children in Southampton.

Bryant offered to show her some puppies, took her to woods and sexually abused her.

Speaking as an adult, she said: "When I hear an ice cream van playing its music, I am left with chills all over my body. I am left remembering what happened to me at a very young age."

Bryant had fantasised about "young girls" from being a teenager, he told a psychiatrist.

The guilt he felt after the first offence had worn off by the time he abducted and abused a second girl, the judge said.

"Mercifully, she has little recollection of the offences although she still avoids woods at all costs," Judge Goss said.

Bryant worked in Saudi Arabia for a decade but by the mid 1990s he had moved to Cumbria.

He preyed on a five-year-old girl who was playing outside her home in Newcastle on a May evening after she became separated from her family. When her frantic mother discovered her missing, a search of the local area proved fruitless and the police were called.

The girl was found 36 miles away in Darlington, County Durham, around three hours later.

A local taxi driver spotted her half-dressed and alone on the streets and took her to the police station. She had also been abused.

The judge said her ordeal destroyed her "confidence, trust of people and self-esteem".

Later that year a four-year-old from Newcastle's west end was abducted as she walked 30 yards to a friend's house.

Bryant later admitted he took her to a caravan in Cumbria. He dumped her in Darlington the next day.

The former soldier abused her, then washed her in the bath to get rid of DNA. Her mother said she smelled of baby lotion when they were reunited.

The victim had knocked on a woman's door, saying: "I cannot find my daddy. I have lost my daddy."

The fourth kidnapping sparked a "major alert and intense anxiety", Judge Goss said.

Hampshire Police detectives began a cold-case review of the sex attacks and through DNA advances, tracked down the predator, having eliminated three of his male relatives from their inquiries.

Judge Goss said Bryant was caught after police arrested one of his brothers, believed to be on suspicion of an unrelated offence.

He told the defendant: "You feel a sense of grievance about this, believing you had got away with it for so long."

The judge said he did not attach much weight to the apology and claims of remorse Bryant has since proffered.

Bryant admitted being tempted to snatch more girls since the 1990s offences, but told his probation officer he had managed to control the urge.

Police have not linked Bryant, who has convictions for sexually assaulting women, to any outstanding child abduction investigations.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Binks said: "For 30 years, Bryant left these victims and their families traumatised by his despicable actions and has shown absolutely no remorse.

"I can't praise the families and victims enough for their support and strength through this long and traumatic ordeal.

"Our officers and our colleagues in Hampshire Police worked tirelessly to get this man behind bars and today we welcome the fact justice has finally been done.

"Our investigation led us to presenting evidence to Bryant, including a positive DNA match, which left him unable to deny his heinous crimes any longer.

"I hope it brings solace and reassurance to others that no unresolved case is closed.

"We continue to investigate historic cases and with advances in science and technology we can bring justice for victims, sometimes many years after crimes were committed."

Gerry Sydenham, head of the Crown Court Unit at CPS North East, said Bryant's offending destroyed the trust of an entire community.

He said: "Mr Bryant was singularly unco-operative. He had no feeling for the victims or their families.

"He had to be confronted with overwhelming evidence.

"This is a man who was able to function for a number of years having committed serious crimes.

"He worked in and out of the country and maintained a normal lifestyle - in the knowledge of having committed offences against four young girls, all under the age of five at a time from when he was aged 35 through to nearly 50 years of age.

"His crimes devastated communities - particularly in the west end of Newcastle which was a focus for his offending.

"Trust broke down amongst people, parents were in fear for their children, there was widespread fear.

"The police had to mount a quite significant operation to reassure the community that this man would ultimately be apprehended, and that, fortunately, has now been achieved.

"His victims were very young at the time and they have attempted as best they can to put behind them what memories they have of what happened.

"Some of them have managed to cope reasonably well but others have been affected throughout the course of their adult life.

"Obviously this case has been very difficult for the victims and their families.

"Not only were serious offences committed against them but they have then had to wait until the case progressed through the courts because Bryant refused to co-operate and to admit his guilt.

"It's extremely satisfying for the CPS to bring to justice a man who is a dangerous paedophile who has lived in amongst the community, and who at last has been brought to book."

Detective Inspector Julian Venner, of Hampshire Constabulary, said after the case "significant time and resources" had been invested in the investigation.

"David Bryant eventually pleaded guilty due to overwhelming forensic evidence and his life history, whereby the police from both forces were able to prove he was living and working within close proximity of these offences when they were committed," he said.