Rugby man jailed for abduction and sexual assault of girl, 6, in 2001

Historic photo of Arnold David Baxter released by Staffordshire Police. NNL-170216-110031001
Historic photo of Arnold David Baxter released by Staffordshire Police. NNL-170216-110031001

A Rugby man was sentenced yesterday, Wednesday, to nine years for the kidnap and sexual assault of a young girl near Burton-upon-Trent in 2001.

Arnold Baxter, aged 72, of Bath Street, Rugby, appeared at Stafford Crown Court.

Arnold David Baxter NNL-170216-110210001

Arnold David Baxter NNL-170216-110210001

Sentencing, Judge Mark Eades, said: “This sort of crime is every parent’s worst nightmare. A girl of six who was playing outside in a quiet village was preyed upon by a man who had driven a long way in a car with false plates.”

Baxter, who was 56 at the time of the incident, appeared at the same court on Monday, December 6, 2016, where he pleaded guilty.

The case concludes almost 16 years after a six-year-old girl was taken from a street in Barton-under-Needwood by Baxter on the evening of Monday, March 12, 2001.

In a statement released following sentencing, Staffordshire Police said that after taking the girl, Baxter sexually assaulted her before abandoning her in the nearby village of Walton-on-Trent, where she was found half an hour later by a passing motorist.

At the time of the incident the main line of inquiry was the sighting of a black Ford Mondeo.

Detectives launched a national manhunt to find the man responsible, including numerous appeals focused on tracing the Mondeo and the suspect.

However, it was vital DNA evidence found on the victim’s coat, which ultimately led to the successful prosecution of the man responsible for this crime.

At the time of the incident, a forensic examination found saliva on the victim’s coat believed to be from the suspect. Over time DNA techniques developed significantly and forensic experts were able to extract a complete DNA profile from the saliva. However, the profile did not match that of any known suspects on the police national database and it lay on file unidentified for over a decade.

Police said the day of reckoning came the day after Baxter’s 72nd birthday when he got behind the wheel of his car in a drunken state. He was subsequently involved in a collision and found himself in police custody, where as part of standard practice he provided his fingerprints and a DNA sample.

After his arrest Baxter’s DNA was searched against the national database of crimes with unidentified offenders, it indicated a match against the DNA found on the victim’s coat.

Police added that after a series of interviews about the kidnap and sexual assault Baxter eventually admitted his guilt to detectives.

DI Glyn Pattinson said: “Our investigation uncovered the true extent of Baxter’s character and his unhealthy addiction to sex.

“He was a sexual predator who put a great deal of effort and time into planning the abduction of the victim.

“She has shown nothing but courage throughout the entire police investigation and has become a strong young woman, raised not as a victim, but as a caring, considerate and kind individual who completely contrasts the darkness of her perpetrator in every way possible.”

Speaking after the sentencing, the victim’s mother said: “My daughter has spent these last 15 years of her life growing into the beautiful and successful person that she is today and will continue to be in the years to come.

“In spite of - or perhaps because of - her kind and generous nature, my daughter fully deserves to have this moment - to know that the man who is none of these things, a man who thinks it’s acceptable to kidnap, assault and abandon a vulnerable six-year old child, has finally been called to account for his actions and will now be punished for them.

“Mr Baxter has spent the last 15 years of his life continuing to go about his day-to-day business and taking advantage of the things he enjoys in life.

“I can only imagine that even the most mundane of pleasures must always have been tainted somewhat by the knowledge that one day his enjoyment of them must come to an end.”