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12 May 2012, 09:32
A driver who propositioned two 12-year-old girls when they walked past his parked car was jailed for 2 years yesterday.
Church-going Nicholas Baldwin, 46, lay in wait for the girls in streets in Watford, Herts, telling one to take her knickers off and, ten minutes later, asking the other to look at his penis.
He was told by Judge Andrew Bright QC that men who behave like him were "every parent's worst nightmare."
Baldwin, who has resigned from his job as a partner in a recruitment firm, had pleaded not guilty to two charges of inciting a child aged under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
He was convicted in March and maintained his innocence until a few days before yesterday's appearance at St Albans crown court when he contacted a probation officer and said he needed help, confessing that approaching the girls had "given him a thrill."
The married father-of-two, who was found with child pornography on his computer after his arrest, had been involved in what his barrister described as "ten minutes of madness."
Both girls ran off and immediately made complaints. Baldwin was arrested four days later after the police had been given part of the registration number of his 4 x 4 Volvo. He had driven his XC90 a few times past the first girl as she walked along at ten to seven in the evening of Tuesday May 3 last year.
For the crown prosecution service, Jane Bickerstaff QC told the jury of 6 men and 6 women: "She was alone in school uniform and was carrying her tights, which she had taken off, and her mobile phone. He had wound his window down and said: 'Hi do you want to get in?' She declined and he said: 'But I wanted you to take your knickers off'.'"
The 12 year old ran off to The Brow and met two other girls of the same age. She called her father who came to pick her up and the police were alerted.
Ms Bickerstaff said that Baldwin drove off, but 10 minutes later was parked in Haines Way, Watford when a second 12 year old walked past. She was ahead of two friends and could see Baldwin looking at her in his wing mirror. He asked: "Hello are you ok?"
He then put his hands on his left leg and said: "Would you like to take a look?"
The prosecutor said: "She was very clear he was inviting her to look at his penis. She ran off and made a complaint."
Baldwin was arrested at his home on May 7 last year. A laptop was seized in his spare room and officers from Herts Police's High Tech Unit were later able to retrieve indecent images of children that had been deleted.
He gave no comment answers to questions on 7 and 8 May, but after being picked out by both the girls in separate video identification parades, Baldwin made a prepared statement.
Ms Bickerstaff said: "The defendant explained he was in Garston and had missed his turning after going to get petrol on his way home from work. He had pulled over to look at his SatNav and noticed the girl remove her tights. He quickly put his seatbelt on as she came towards the car because he was worried she would get the wrong idea. He said: 'Are you okay? You should be careful you nearly showed me your knickers. " He said she then ran off.
He said he then drove off, but took a wrong turn and decided to stop and deal with the emails on his Blackberry. He said he was preparing to drive off again and was adjusting his underwear, which was uncomfortable, when a little girl's face appeared at his car window. He said she shouted: "Oh my God."
Baldwin of Bushey Mill Lane, Watford, was convicted of two charges of inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity on 12 March. He pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children. 10 were at Level 1, the lowest of 5 levels, and 4 were at Level 2.
He had no previous convictions.
His barrister Miranda Moore QC said Baldwin now accepted what he did and was seeking help. "He has accepted he has a problem and will now co-operate with probation."
She said Baldwin, who was supported in court by his wife, friends and members of his church, had carried out "ten minutes of madness." Neither of the girls saw anything sexual and neither had been touched, she said.
Jailing him, Judge Bright said: "Men who behave as you did that evening are every parent's worst nightmare.
"You have admitted having an unhealthy attitude to young girls. You now see the error of your ways. You need to fully undertake the programmes on offer in custody to wean you off your obsession with young girls."