A paedophile who molested a little girl before claiming she had instigated the sick abuse has been jailed.
Robert Gardener twice targeted the child, the first time molesting his victim as she cried, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
The 64-year-old covered up the first incident by suggesting to the girl’s dad he was “just playing”.
But he was then caught abusing her on a second occasion by the victim’s own father, who saw his little girl’s hand moving down the front of Gardener’s trousers near his groin.
However, Gardener, of Kensington, then had the gall to claim that the child instigated it.
Liverpool Crown Court heard another girl first spotted Gardener with his trousers and underpants down in the presence of the little girl.
Fiona McNeill, prosecuting, said the child reported this to the victim’s mum, who in turn spoke to her partner, who talked to Gardener.
Gardener assured the little girl’s dad that he was “just playing” with the victim and that the child witness hadn’t seen anything untoward.
However, on a second occasion the girl’s dad saw the vile abuse in person. The girl then looked up and moved her hand away as Gardener stared at her dad, Ms McNeill told the court.
The court heard the dad, who has his own vulnerabilities, removed his daughter from the situation.
As a result, the girl’s mum again spoke to the child who witnessed the first incident and asked for more details.
The child told her she had seen Gardener standing over the little girl with his genitals close to her face.
Ms McNeill said the witness described how the little girl had “tears in her eyes”.
The mum spoke to her daughter, who said she had put her hand down Gardener’s trousers because he asked her to.
The dad then chatted to his daughter, when she pointed out to him on a drawing where she had touched Gardener.
The girl also confirmed to police that Gardener had pulled his pants down in front of her.
Gardener was arrested and made no comment when the allegations were put to him.
However, screenshots of a conversation between him and the girl’s dad showed Gardener said he had been “messing around” with the girl.
Gardener, who had no previous convictions, admitted two counts of causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity.
In a victim statement, the girl’s mum described a “deterioration” in her daughter’s behaviour since the abuse.
Ms McNeill said: “She describes her smashing up furniture and destroying her bedroom.”
The mum said her child had begun to wet herself at night and she struggled not knowing the full extent of what Gardener had done.
Brendan Carville, defending, said his client had made some “denials” in a pre-sentence report.
Mr Carville said: “He’s 64 years of age, good character, and having to sit down with a lady he doesn’t know and explain what he’s done, he found that difficult. He stands by his pleas of guilty.”
He urged the judge to spare Gardener jail so he could receive support in the community “because clearly he needs help”.
Mr Carville said his client had “brought his kit” to court and expected to be sent to prison, but at his age prison would be very difficult for him, especially during the pandemic.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said Gardener molested his “crying” victim on the first occasion, but then “covered up” the abuse.
However, he said on the second occasion he was caught by the girl’s dad, who was “shocked” by what he had seen.
The judge said the girl’s dad described the look on Gardener’s face when he realised that he had been caught, which was “one of apparent calm and casual indifference”.
Referring to the pre-sentence report, Judge Trevor-Jones said: “There is a continuing denial by you, indeed the suggestion the second incident was instigated by the victim.”
He added: “I query the extent of your remorse.”
The judge said Gardener was assessed as a “high risk” of harm towards children.
He said the effect on his victim had been “very substantial” with a change in her personality and it was impossible to say for how long this would last and to what extent.
Judge Trevor-Jones jailed Gardener for four years.
He told him to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years and sign on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.