A man has been sentenced to nine years after admitting the kidnap and sexual assault of a six-year-old girl in Barton-under-Needwood in 2001.
Arnold Baxter, aged 72, of Bath Street, Rugby, was 56 when he took the girl before later abandoning her in Walton-on-Trent where she was found 30 minutes later by a passing motorist.
The court heard how Baxter had driven a car on false number plates to carry out his crime.
Judge Mark Eades said: “This sort of crime is every parent’s worst nightmare. A girl of six who was playing outside in a quiet village was preyed upon by a man who had driven a long way in a car with false plates.”
Vital DNA evidence found on the victim’s coat helped to link him to the crime after advances in DNA techniques – although it was more than a decade until Baxter was caught. He was arrested on his 72nd birthday after being involved in a car crash after driving while drunk. When in custody he gave a DNA sample which was linked to the girl’s disappearance.
After a series of interviews, Baxter eventually admitted his guilt to detectives and went on to describe his actions in detail.
DI Glyn Pattinson said: “Our investigation uncovered the true extent of Baxter’s character and his unhealthy addiction to sex. He was a sexual predator who put a great deal of effort and time into planning the abduction of the victim.
“She has shown nothing but courage throughout the entire police investigation and has become a strong young woman, raised not as a victim, but as a caring, considerate and kind individual who completely contrasts the darkness of her perpetrator in every way possible.
“This crime left the local community, and the victim’s parents, in a complete state of shock. Incidents like this are fortunately very rare in Staffordshire.
“I can reassure the community, and the rest of Staffordshire, that we have remained committed to this case, carrying out regular reviews and making sure that everything possible was done to trace the person responsible and deliver justice for the victim.”