March 2012

Paedophile who snatched four little girls off the street and sexually abused them was caught by DNA 30 years later

A paedophile who snatched four little girls off the street in the 1980s and 1990s, sexually abused them and then dumped them, was jailed for 16 years today.

Balding grandfather David Bryant, 65, from Ulverston, Cumbria, thought he had ‘got away with it’ for decades until he was snared with DNA evidence.

The pervert had ‘a sense of grievance’ having been caught so long after four terrifying attacks on victims in Hampshire and Tyneside, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

He admitted kidnap and sexual assault after cold-case detectives made a DNA link to catch him 30 years after he first struck.

Judge James Goss, the Recorder of Newcastle, said: ‘All your victims were very young girls aged five or under.

‘You feel a sense of grievance about this, believing you had got away with it for so long.

‘There was a distinct pattern to your offences. In each case you approached your victim near to where you were working at the time, took them to a place of privacy where you sexually assaulted them.’

Bryant’s offending against young girls was terrifying and became more serious as he continued to evade capture, with the mother of his final victim believing her daughter was dead as she had been missing for 17 hours.

In the first case in the early 1980s Bryant grabbed a girl, five, who was playing outside her Hampshire home.

The girl’s mother had popped into their house to get drinks for the children, the court heard, but when she returned her daughter had vanished.

Moments later a couple reported they had found her and a man had run away.

Bryant had committed a sex act over the child, leaving DNA evidence on her which would only prove useful decades later.

The following year a three-year-old was snatched as she played with other children in Southampton. Bryant had offered to show her some puppies, took her to woods and sexually abused her.

Speaking as an adult, she said: ‘When I hear an ice cream van playing its music I am left with chills all over my body. I am left remembering what happened to me at a very young age.’

In the mid-1990s a girl, five, was playing outside her home on a May evening in Newcastle when she was separated from her family.

When her frantic mother discovered her missing a search of the local area proved fruitless and the police were called. She was found 36 miles away in Darlington, County Durham around three hours later and had been abused.

A local taxi driver had spotted her half-dressed and alone on the streets.

Later that year a four-year-old from Newcastle’s west end was abducted as she walked 30 yards to a friend’s house.

Bryant later admitted he took her to a caravan in Cumbria. He dumped her in Darlington the next day.

The former soldier abused her then washed her in the bath to get rid of DNA. Her mother said she smelled of baby lotion when they were reunited.

The victim had knocked on a woman’s door, saying: ‘I cannot find my daddy. I have lost my daddy.’

Judge Goss told Bryant that he had damaged all the children he abused.

Hampshire Police detectives began a cold-case review of the sex attacks and through DNA advances, tracked down the predator, having eliminated three of his male relatives from their inquiries.

Bryant admitted being tempted to snatch more girls since the 1990s offences, but told his probation officer he had managed to control the urge.

Between the Hampshire crimes and the Tyneside abductions Bryant lived in Saudi Arabia.

He had also been convicted of three sex offences against women between 1975 and 1984.

In interviews with police he denied the offences, and replied ‘no comment’ when asked how his DNA was at the scene of all four crimes.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Binks said: “For 30 years, Bryant left these victims and their families traumatised by his despicable actions and has shown absolutely no remorse.

‘I can’t praise the families and victims enough for their support and strength through this long and traumatic ordeal.

‘Our investigation led us to presenting evidence to Bryant, including a positive DNA match, which left him unable to deny his heinous crimes any longer.

‘I hope it brings solace and reassurance to others that no unresolved case is closed.

Gerry Sydenham, Head of the Crown Court Unit at CPS North East, said Bryant’s offending destroyed the trust of an entire community.

He said: ‘Mr Bryant was singularly uncooperative. He had no feeling for the victims or their families.

‘It was only practically at the door of the trial that he did admit his guilt.

‘This is a man who was able to function for a number of years having committed serious crimes.

‘His crimes devastated communities – particularly in the west end of Newcastle which was a focus for his offending.

‘Trust broke down amongst people, parents were in fear for their children, there was widespread fear.

‘His victims were very young at the time and they have attempted as best they can to put behind them what memories they have of what happened.

‘Some of them have managed to cope reasonably well but others have been affected throughout the course of their adult life