A man has admitted masturbating at a four-year-old girl in a Trowbridge coffee shop.
70-year-old Philip Harding, of The Lye, Seend, guilty to a charge of indecent exposure when he appeared at Swindon Magistrates’ Court this morning (Tuesday).
Prosecutor Keith Ballinger said that the defendant pulled down his trousers and pants in close proximity to a four-year-old girl in Coffee#1 in Fore Street yesterday afternoon (Monday, 9 October).
He proceeded to masturbate his penis directly at the young child – who he had been talking to moments prior – as she watched.
An adult, who had accompanied the girl to the coffee shop, noticed and shouted: “He’s got his willy out.” The defendant replied: “No, no, no, I’m pulling my up my trousers.”
Mr Ballinger said that the adult told workers to stop the man from leaving the shop, but staff said they couldn’t. Police were called to the scene and Harding was located and arrested.
The man – a registered sex offender who was jailed for four months in July 2023 for a similar crime in Devizes – told officers: “I’ve only just come out of prison for the same thing.”
The case was sent to Swindon Crown Court for sentencing on 9 November. Harding was remanded in custody and recalled on licence.
Wiltshire Police investigator Mike Griffiths said: “Officers were called to the coffee shop following a report that an elderly male had intentionally exposed himself whilst a child was stood in front of him.
“Shortly afterwards, we arrested a man who informed officers that he had just been released from prison for a similar offence.
“We would like to thank the cafe employees and members of the public for their quick response in contacting us.
“We would urge anyone who sees an offence taking place to call us straight away.”
Victims of sexual crimes have the right to lifelong anonymity. It is an imprisonable criminal offence to share any piece of information that could lead to their identification.
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