A MIDDLE-aged alcoholic who tried to entice two little boys into his Accrington flat has been jailed for six months.
Ex-convict Ernest Astin, who tried to smuggle one youngster in through the window of the property, showed the brothers - aged eight and five - two books and asked if they wanted to read them, Burnley Crown Court heard.
Passing sentence, Judge Raymond Bennett said in this day and age, with so many allegations of child abuse, it was difficult to resist fearing the worst.
Arguing that the boys' parents and other local parents must have been very worried when they found out what had happened, the judge said that in the present climate the defendant had been stupid and criminal. He should have been aware of the risk he was taking and others must be deterred.
Astin, 55, of Spruce Court, Woodside Road, Huncoat, had earlier admitted attempted child abduction. He had no previous convictions for such offences, but had been to prison before.
Joanna Rodrikis, prosecuting, told the court that last July the brothers, from the Huncoat area, were playing football and one of them accidentally kicked the ball onto grass in front of Astin's flat.
He went to get the ball and noticed Astin at a window. The defendant invited the boys into the property but they refused and he then started to talk to them about his personal life.
Astin climbed out of the window, picked up the eight-year-old, put him on the windowsill and climbed back inside. The boy tried to jump free but the defendant grabbed him by the neck.
He then showed the youngsters the books and asked if they wanted to read them. They said no. The child jumped off the windowsill and both boys ran home.
Miss Rodrikis said the children told their mother what had happened the next day and she called police. Officers went to Astin's flat, which was dirty and sparsely furnished, and which he accessed by climbing in and out of the window.
The defendant told police he had been standing at the window, had got bored and had started talking to the victims. He accepted he did not know them, but had invited them in. Astin denied holding the eight-year-old against his will.
Anthony Cross, defending, said such cases were extremely worrying and caused people to wonder what were the intentions of somebody who invited boys to his home.
Mr Cross said maybe the defendant's alcoholism caused him to do something foolish and the best way to ensure no repetition of such behaviour would be for him to take advantage of the guidance the probation service could offer.