A 71-YEAR-OLD man has been jailed for trying to lure away children in city centre shops for sexual purposes.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Leslie Foster, 71, approached three young girls in separate attempts in shops in St John’s Precinct in Liverpool, on August 20 and September 25, 2021.

On 20 August 2021, he approached a 10-year-old child in Wilkinson’s and asked her if she wanted a kiss.

He did not get close to her but she was immediately nervous and upset and told her mother and sister what had happened.

Then on September 25, 2021 he entered the Home Bargains store and approached a three-year-old child and put her hand on his groin area over clothing and offered her money for doing so.

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She told her sister who immediately told a parent.

Staff were able to check CCTV which verified what the three-year-old had.

Half an hour later on the same day, he approached another child, who was eight years old and asked her to come and play with him.

The Crown Prosecution Service’s case was that, had the child gone with him, he would have committed a sexual offence.

Foster, from Liverpool, was traced by police and arrested.

He was charged with two offences of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, one count of attempting to abduct a child and one offence of committing an offence with the intent to commit a sexual offence.

On 3 March 2022 at Liverpool Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to the offences and today at Liverpool Crown Court, he was given an extended sentence of  nine years and six months in jail and four years and six months on licence.

He has been placed on the Sexual Offenders Register. 

The Crown Prosecution Service also applied for a Sexual Harm Prevention Order to be imposed. This was granted indefinitely by the court.

In a statement Senior Crown Prosecutor Mairead Neeson, a specialist lawyer with CPS Mersey-Cheshire’s Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO) unit, said: “What Leslie Foster did on these three occasions is every parent’s nightmare.

“The Crown Prosecution Service’s case was that he was trying to lure these very young girls away for sexual purposes. 

“We believe that, had these children gone with him, he would have committed a sexual act on them. He took one child’s hand so that he could use it to stroke his groin.

“However, instinct is very powerful, and these children immediately knew that what was happening to them wasn’t right.

“Very young children may not fully understand what is happening but instinctively know it is wrong. 

"On two occasions, the sisters of the victims intervened and took the children away, showing the power of siblings’ protective nature.

“Without the instinctive reactions of these children, Foster’s offending could have had far more serious consequences.

“The Crown Prosecution Service would like to pay tribute to the actions of the victims and their families at the time and for their help in building this case.

“We hope the relatively speedy conclusion of this prosecution helps them to move on with their lives.”