A PAEDOPHILE who snatched four girls from the street in the 1980s and 1990s has been jailed for 16 years.
David Bryant, 65, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court for four separate attacks on victims in Hampshire and Tyneside.
He admitted four counts of kidnap and four counts of sexual assault after cold-case detectives made a link to DNA taken after an attack in Gosport in 1982.
Sentencing him Judge James Goss said: ‘All your victims were very young girls aged five or under.
‘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.’
Former soldier Bryant, from Ulverston, Cumbria, grabbed a five-year-old as she played outside her home in Rowner and assaulted her.
The girl’s mum had popped into their house to get drinks for the children when he pounced.
Moments later, a couple reported they had found her and a man had run away.
He had molested the girl, leaving DNA evidence on her which would prove useful decades later.
The following year a three-year-old was snatched as she played with other children in Southampton. There were also offences in the Northumbria area in the 1990s.
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.
Judge Goss said Bryant was caught after police arrested one of his brothers, believed to be on suspicion of an unrelated offence.
He told the defendant: ‘You feel a sense of grievance about this, believing you had got away with it for so long.’
The judge said he did not attach much weight to the apology and claims of remorse Bryant has since proffered.
Bryant admitted being tempted to snatch more girls since the 1990s offences, but told his probation officer he had managed to control the urge.
Police have not linked Bryant, who has convictions for sexually assaulting women, to any outstanding child abduction investigations.
Bryant had been living in Hampshire after leaving the Army where he specialised in electronics, and he continued to work in that field, which allowed him to move around the country.
Between the Hampshire crimes and the Tyneside abductions Bryant lived and worked in Saudi Arabia.
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 Inspector Julian Venner, of Hampshire Constabulary said “significant time and resources” had been invested into the investigation.
‘David Bryant eventually pleaded guilty due to overwhelming forensic evidence and his life history, whereby the police from both forces were able to prove he was living and working within close proximity of these offences when they were committed,’ he said.
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 officers and our colleagues in Hampshire Police worked tirelessly to get this man behind bars and today we welcome the fact justice has finally been done.
‘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.
‘We continue to investigate historic cases and with advances in science and technology we can bring justice for victims, sometimes many years after crimes were committed.’
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.
‘He had to be confronted with overwhelming evidence.
‘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.
‘He worked in and out of the country and maintained a normal lifestyle - in the knowledge of having committed offences against four young girls, all under the age of five at a time from when he was aged 35 through to nearly 50 years of age.
‘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.
‘The police had to mount a quite significant operation to reassure the community that this man would ultimately be apprehended, and that, fortunately, has now been achieved.
‘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.
‘Obviously this case has been very difficult for the victims and their families.
‘Not only were serious offences committed against them but they have then had to wait until the case progressed through the courts because Bryant refused to cooperate and to admit his guilt.
‘It’s extremely satisfying for the CPS to bring to justice a man who is a dangerous paedophile who has lived in amongst the community, and who at last has been brought to book.’