A HORSE groomer who tried to snatch a nine-year-old girl from a village street as she ran an errand for her mum has been jailed for seven years.

Alex Benfield, from Cirencester, who a judge said has an attraction to young girls, must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life as part of the sentence.

Jailing him Judge Tim Mousley QC told the 25-year-old: "A powerful inference to be drawn is that your motivation was sexual.

“That is the conclusion to which I am drawn. I bear in mind the two recordings on your mobile phone, and that is consistent with a sexual attraction to young girls.”

Benfield will have to serve two thirds of the sentence before he can apply for parole and will then be on licence for an extras three years.

The judge, sitting at Swindon Crown Court, also imposed a sexual harm prevention order restricting his liberty on release, and meaning he must register as a sex offender.

He said: “I am satisfied, as were the jury, that you intended to remove her from the footpath and to drive her away from Ashton Keynes.

“Where you would take her to and for how long you would detain her is a matter of speculation

“However it is obvious that your motivation was you own gratification, whether that was to be satisfied by simply detaining her or whether you would have satisfied yourself by assaulting her either physically or sexually is unknown.

“You have a tendency to be attracted to very young girls and the events of July 8 show this goes way beyond having the propensity. You have now committed a contact offence.”

Gareth James, defending, told the court that his client accepted he was facing a lengthy jail term.

He said: “What we can take from the presentence report is it seems Mr Benfield has been assessed of a low risk of reoffending.

“That is based on his previous record, the fact he has no previous: cautions or anything.”

Earlier the court heard a statement from the head of the local primary school talking about the impact the incident has had on pupils and their parents.

She said children previously allowed to go home alone were being collected and others were wary walking alone to a church youth club

Benfield had stopped in Ashton Keynes on a Saturday in July as he made a lunchtime trip to shops from the stables where he worked teaching youngsters to ride.

In footage from CCTV cameras in the village his car is seen pulling up just yards from the local store when the three little girls come out.

As they made their way home Benfield came up behind the children and grabbed the girl by her shoulder and bottom, lifting her off the ground.

But as she struggled and screamed he dropped her, leaving her with grazed knees, and ran off.

After getting back in his car he drove straight to a clothes shop to buy a new shirt so he could change out of the distinctive T shirt he was wearing.

When he was arrested the following day he lied about what he had been wearing and where he had been the day before.

However as well as film from the village, police also recovered CCTV footage from the clothes shop and stable yard, showing what he was wearing.

Detectives also found two short movies on his mobile phone where had covertly filmed young girls.

In the first clip, lasting four seconds a young blonde girl walks past the front of his car and the second, 18 seconds in length, showed a child swinging in a play park.