Chilling pictures: Convicted sex offender prowls toy store for eight HOURS then targets young girl
Leslie Foster – who had just been freed from a life sentence for the knifepoint rape of a teenager – was seen loitering around the Toys R Us aisles
Leslie Foster, 63, – who had just been freed from a life sentence for the knifepoint rape of a teenager – was seen loitering around the aisles between 9am and 4pm before accosting the girl when she became separated from her father and brother.
As the youngster looked for a Barbie doll to buy with her birthday money, Foster sneaked up to her and said he would buy her any toy she wanted.
He then winked and exposed himself telling her: “show me your knickers and I will give you a pound and I will buy you anything in the shop.”
The terrified youngster ran away from him and was found sobbing in another aisle by store staff who tannoyed her father and brother.
Police and staff studied CCTV of shoppers at the toy store in Deepdale Retail Park in Preston, Lancs and saw Foster coming in and out of the store on five separate occasions on the day of the attack – sometimes after changing his appearance.
He was caught after a probation officer recognised pictures of Foster when they appeared in a local newspaper.
It emerged he had a record for sex offences dating back almost 50 years and had served 34 years of a life sentence before being freed in 2012 when the authorities deemed him safe to be freed.
When he was last locked up in 1978 he told staff at a mental hospital: ”I’ll be better off inside. let the state keep me.”
An expert who quizzed Foster said he was “either unable or unwilling to control sexualised behaviour” and posed ”a significant risk of serious harm to the public”.
Today at Preston Crown Court, Foster of Chorley, Lancashire, showed no emotion as he was sent back to prison for eight years and four months after he admitted causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Earlier the court heard how Foster had first appeared in court in 1966 when he was 15 after he attacked and molested a 32-year-old woman who had been pushing a pram.
In that same year Foster molested an eight-year-old girl who he saw walking alone – yet again escaping with probation.
The following year he was sent to a secure mental hospital after he beat up and threatened to rape a 76-year-old woman on her own doorstep.
Then in May 1978 he struck again while he was a psychiatric patient at Whittingham Hospital in Preston.
At the time of the offence he had allowed out with an escort to attend a motor mechanic’s college course but while travelling back to the hospital he targeted a 19-year-old girl when he saw her get off a bus.
Foster followed her and dragged her into a shed where he raped her as he held a penknife to her throat.
During the attack he said: “Don’t scream. I’ve got a knife and I’ll slit your throat.”‘
He was caught after two boys saw him fleeing the scene and followed him back to the hospital.
When Foster was caught and locked up he told hospital staff: ”I’ll say I did it to get you off my back. You’re always at me. I’ll be better off inside. let the State keep me.”
He was given life imprisonment after he was convicted of rape but was released in December 2012.
Paul Cummings prosecuting said the latest incident occurred on February 1 this year after Foster travelled by bus to the retail park and was seen going in and out of Toys R Us a number of times during the day.
Mr Cummings added: ”He was first seen in the shop at 9.36am and this offence was committed around 4.15pm.
“We know from the footage he had been seen in the entrance entering the shop on at least four or five occasions.
“The impression was that he changed his appearance as he has gone in and out, sometimes he was wearing a woollen hat, sometimes he wasn’t, also glasses as well.
“The impression the police had was that he was trying to make his appearance look different.
Later the girl was found in a distressed state and crying for her father by a store assistant.
She said could not find her father and the assistant said he would stay with her and help her find him.
During their conversation the girl said a ‘grandad-type’ man had shown her his private parts through a hole in his trousers.
He was said to have promised her a pound if she showed him her knickers.
She then became tearful and said the man had said: “I will buy you anything in the shop if you show me your knickers.”
Foster gave himself up when police were given his name.
The victim identified him as her attacker after watching the CCTV.
She is now said to be “frightened” about going about on her own.
In mitigation defence counsel Miss Jo Shepherd said: “Having spent virtually all his adult life in custody, Mr Foster is quite institutionalised.
“While there is some element of targeting, he was clearly in and out of other shops. He goes to visit Hobby Craft.”
But passing sentence Judge Michael Byrne said: “The defendant chose a place deliberately that children go to, a toy shop.
“CCTV footage shows the defendant going in and out of the shop a number of times.
“CCTV footage records him as giving the impression that he is wandering around the shop looking for children to approach.
”In the circumstances I’m satisfied this conduct clearly demonstrates a significant degree of planning.
“This court takes the view in this case that there is a significant risk to members of the public of serious harm.”
In a statement the girl’s father said he was “very concerned about in public letting his children out of sight” and added: “I wanted to kill him.
“My daughter wanted to buy a kind of doll Toys R Us do with her birthday money. It happened in 30 seconds.
“My children wanted to look at different aisles. I was walking from the skateboard aisle to check on her when I heard the tannoy calling me.
“My daughter was in tears and the staff told me what had happened.
“I shouted and shouted for my son because I was afraid the man was still in the store. I was relieved it hadn’t been any worse.
”It doesn’t seem to have affected her too much luckily, but it may do when she’s older. It’s really affected us.
“Since it happened I am on pins when I’m out with them, I never let them out of my sight.”