Convicted rapist made toddler touch his genitals in Home Bargains

A convicted rapist made a three-year-old rub his genitals in a city center shop before trying to kidnap an eight-year-old and sexually assault her.

Leslie Foster had only recently been released from prison after committing sex offenses against children but went on to target more kids in Home Bargains and Wilko in St John’s Shopping Center last year. The 71-year-old has spent most of his life in prison after committing a series of sexual assaults against women and girls.

A judge said his pattern of predatory behavior posed a risk to young children as he jailed him this morning.

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Martine Snowdon, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court he was first reported after lurking in the arts and crafts aisle in Wilko’s in September last year. A ten-year-old, shopping with her parents and sister, wandered away from them and was discovered by her sister close to Foster, who had brushed her past. Ms Snowdon said: “The defendant had said to her “are you sure, are you shy, do you want a kiss?”

Days later, in Home Bargains, he targeted a three-year-old girl, telling her to rub his genitals over his trousers. That girl also told her family what happened and while shop staff were checking the CCTV Foster tried to kidnap another child. He located an eight-year-old in a different part of the shop and asked her if she wanted to “come and play” and told her he would give her some money if she did so.

He quickly fled after realising he was under suspicion – but was arrested after he returned at a later date. Ms Snowdon said: “Staff recognised the defendant when he attended the shop. The shop staff detained him and called the police.” Foster initially denied any wrongdoing but later admitted multiple counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity as well as attempted kidnap.

He received his first conviction at just 14, molesting a woman pushing a pram. Months later, he did the same to an eight-year-old girl. He then assaulted a 78-year-old women before going on to rape a 19-year-old at knifepoint in 1978. The court heard that in that case he targeted the woman, following her off a bus before dragging her into a shed and attacking her.

After serving 34 years of a life sentence, he was released in 2012. Yet only a couple of years later he was sent back to jail after prowling a Toys R Us in Preston and asking a seven-year-old girl to show him her knickers . It was less than a year after his release for that incident that he attacked the children in Liverpool.

Alaric Walmsley, defending, said Foster now had significant health problems and asked the judge to take into account this as well as his age when sentencing. He said: “There may not be much sympathy for his personal circumstances but I ask your honor to bear in mind the man in front of you in custody.”

Judge Gary Woodhall said there was no question Foster posed an extremely high risk to women and girls. He said: “There was here an established pattern of predatory offending targeting young female children which has been developed over a long period of time.”

Foster, of no fixed abode, was jailed for nine and a half years, with another four and a half years on extended license. Foster’s previous life sentence and the nature of his most recent offences meant that had his sentence been more than ten years he could have been jailed for life.

However, Judge Woodhall said while his crimes were grave they did not pass that threshold. He said: “I say now that I would have had no hesitation in passing a life sentence if the qualifying conditions were present here. They are not.”

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