A HIGH risk sex offender who indecently assaulted a three-year-old girl in a supermarket has been spared jail despite repeatedly flouting court orders imposed to protect children.

Keith Holloway of Worcester thrust his exposed genitals against the girl, filmed under the skirts of young women and offered a girl of eight an ice pop, telling her she was 'beautiful' and inviting her to use his new shower.

But the 65-year-old was not sent to jail by Judge Nicholas Cole at Worcester Crown Court because the most recent breach of his sexual harm prevention order was deemed too 'minor' and because his defence barrister argued that prison would be 'crushing'.

It is the fourth time Holloway has breached the same order since it was imposed in September 15, 2017. Three breaches involved his possession of devices (phone or laptop) with cameras and the most serious involved the befriending of a child (the eight-year-old girl).

Holloway, of Back Lane South, Barbourne, failed to tell his offender manager he had bought a new mobile phone fitted with a camera and was sentenced at Worcester Crown Court on Wednesday.

Although he is permitted to have a mobile phone he did not inform his offender manager he had bought a new one after breaking the old one by dropping it into a sink full of water.

Holloway, who walked with a stick, lowered his head in the dock, covered his face with his hands and at one stage dabbed his eyes with a tissue.

The mobile phone was discovered during an unannounced visit to his home on July 5 last year by his offender manager. He bought it in Argos on June 13 that year.

Michael Aspinall, prosecuting, described the defendant's previous convictions.

The first dates back to 1984 for sending an obscene article in the post.

Holloway was jailed for 51 months on February 7, 2003 for indecent assault on a female under 16. Mr Aspinall said Holloway had approached a three-year-old girl in the corner of a supermarket and began 'thrusting his pelvis' into her.

"He was grabbed by the mother. His penis was exposed. Being confronted he began crying and saying he shouldn't have done it," said Mr Aspinall.

On that occasion Holloway was detained until police arrived to arrest him.

He received a sentence of nine months in prison suspended for two years for outraging public decency on October 15, 2007 after he used the camera on his mobile phone to photograph young women under their skirts.

"They were unaware of his activity but a passing member of the public reported it to police," said Mr Aspinall.

Holloway was made subject to a sexual offences prevention order for 10 years but breached that on December 14, 2016 when police discovered during a routine visit that the defendant had a tablet which had a camera facility.

He was fined for this offence on August 24, 2017. As a result of a further breach Holloway was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order which was due to last until October 15, 2027.

When Holloway was visited again by police they found he had a mobile phone with video and camera facility in his hallway which led to a seven month prison sentence, suspended for 24 months on March 6, 2018.

He also befriended a girl of eight, giving her £2 to buy some sweets and also gave her ice pops, telling the girl's mother her daughter was 'beautiful' and inviting her and her daughter to use his newly installed shower unit, Mr Aspinall told the court. Holloway told police he did not think it was a breach of the order because the girl's mother was present. Mr Aspinall described the breaches as 'persistent'.

Jamie Scott, defending, said his client had provided medical evidence that he had been discharged from hospital after a fall, had heart palpitations, suffered from low potassium levels and was on 17 different forms of medication.

Mr Scott described possession of the phone as 'a relatively minor breach' and that it did not represent an escalation of matters.

He said: "It's a breach I hope can be characterised as an honest mistake. I ask for full credit for his guilty plea.

"It's plain immediate custody would have a crushing effect on someone who is obviously a frail and unwell man."

He argued that Holloway's accommodation was 'a stabilising force' in his life and that he would stand to lose that if he was jailed, a view shared by the probation liaison officer.

His offender manager advised the judge that Holloway was managed as 'a high risk'.

Judge Cole said Holloway had 'a history of disobedience to court orders' but this latest breach was 'minor' and that, because of the defendant's health issues, it would be 'unjust' to activate the suspended sentence.

Judge Cole sentenced him to a 12-month community order with up to 20 rehabilitation activity days. He imposed a fine of £1,000 and ordered him to pay £350 costs. Both must be discharged within 28 days.