A MAN who offered 20 pence to a seven-year-old boy before sexually assaulting him in a supermarket toilet has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Dennis Walsh sexually touched the boy in a cubicle at Sainsbury's supermarket in Active Way, Burnley, in November last year.

Burnley Crown Court heard the boy had gone to use the toilet while his stepmother visited the toilet with the boy's sister.

The boy's stepmother and sister came out a few minutes later and waited for him.

The court heard after checking with the boy's dad to see if he was at the till with him, the stepmother opened the men's toilet door and shouted inside for him.

Amanda Johnson, prosecuting, said she noticed one of the cubicles was occupied and the boy shouted he was inside.

Roughly five minutes later he came out and the family left.

Ms Johnson said: "The boy was very quiet after that and reported he was nearly kidnapped.

"He said a man grabbed his arm and did not let go."

The court heard the family took him to a police station to report the incident.

Ms Johnson said on the way to the station he revealed Walsh, 39, had inappropriately touched him.

She said the boy would not go to sleep and would wear boxing gloves in bed.

Judge Sara Dodd added he also wore a family member's motorcycle helmet and would only go to bed fully dressed.

Ms Johnson said: "The man offered to give the boy 20 pence, took hold of his arm and pulled him into the cubicle where he then pulled his pants and underpants down.

"The boy asked the man if he could go and he said 'not yet'.

"At that point was when the men's toilets was opened and his stepmother shouted through.

"The boy was instructed not to tell anyone."

The court heard police released an appeal to find the man responsible and the defendant's mother saw it.

She confronted her son about it and told him to hand himself in.

Walsh went to a police station the following day.

The court heard Walsh denied he sexually assaulted the boy and said he went into the cubicle to change an incontinence pad.

Forensic analysis was carried out on the boy's underpants and Walsh's DNA was found on the waistband.

Ms Johnson said the boy's mother was "heartbroken"and the incident had a large effect on the boy, as well as his family.

The court heard Walsh had breached a two-year suspended 16-month prison sentence after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13 in February 2017.

Nicholas Clarke, defending, said Walsh has learning difficulties and it was unusual for the defendant to start this sort of behaviour at this stage of his life.

He said: "There is no question this is a prison sentence and a prison sentence of some length.

"As part of his suspended sentence he successfully completed a sexual offender treatment programme.

"It is hoped on his behalf he's not going to trouble the courts in the future.

"If he commits further offences he will be ostracised by his family."

He added there was little in the report to indicate Walsh knew what he did was wrong.

Walsh, of Albert Street, Burnley, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13 and breach of a sexual harm prevention order and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, with a further seven year extension on licence.

He was also subject to a sexual offender notification requirement and a sexual harm prevention order for life.

Judge Dodd said the boy had changed and had "anger in him" since the incident.

He said: "He's fallen behind at school. He refuses to get changed during a sporting activity and the pressure in doing so caused him to have a panic attack.

"He doesn't want to go to his father's as he thinks it will happen again.

"I have no doubt there is possibly a significant risk you will commit further sexual offences and by doing so you will cause serious physical and psychological harm, in this case to children."