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Pensioner tried to kiss eight-year-old girl in van outside chip shop

PUBLISHED: 07:32 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 07:43 07 January 2020

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

A 73-year-old man who tried to kiss an eight-year-old girl as she waited in her father's van outside a fish and chip shop has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Ashley Lake told the schoolgirl she was "gorgeous" before leaning into the van and attempting to kiss her on the lips, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The girl's father had pulled Lake away from his daughter and when he tried to take a photograph of Lake on his mobile phone Lake had swiped the phone out of his hand causing the screen to smash, prosecutor Jane Oldfield said.

Lake had also tried to punch the girl's father but hadn't made contact with him.

Miss Oldfield said the girl had been in a fish and chip shop in the town with her father on November 22 and had asked if she could sit in his van and play with her phone after she became aware of Lake watching her.

Lake had left the shop and approached the van and when the girl opened the door he had leaned over her and tried to kiss her.

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Lake, of Homeport, Lowestoft, admitted attempted sexual assault of a child under 13, criminal damage and assault by beating and was given a 10-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to a sex offenders' group work programme.

He was also banned from contacting the victim for eight years and from going to the fish and chip shop.

The court heard that Lake had a previous conviction for indecently assaulting a girl under 16 in the 1980s and had been jailed for three years.

Sentencing Lake, Judge Rupert Overbury described his attempt to kiss the girl while she waited in her father's van as the "most awful, frightening behaviour from a grown-up towards a little girl."

He said that Lake had shown an interest in the girl while she had been in the fish and chip shop with her father.

He said: "You were plainly looking at her.

"This wasn't a case of a drunken silly old man - it was the action of a man who has had for a long time a sexual interest in young girls."

David Wilson, mitigating, said his client had been drinking and was deeply ashamed and remorseful for his behaviour.

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