A pervert stole a little girl’s knickers from the changing rooms of a swimming baths and claimed he did so to carry out DNA testing.
Christopher Wallace was in the communal changing area in the Mill House Leisure Centre, in Hartlepool, when he snatched the eight-year-old’s pants as she went to shower with her mum.
Wallace entered the cubicle and stole the child’s knickers from the bag. He then left the leisure centre with them.Bob Moore, prosecuting
The 33-year-old then left the centre, but was caught after the child’s mum reported the incident to leisure centre staff.
Justices were told that Wallace was “paranoid” and was interested in internet conspiracy theories which he claimed made him want to pinch knickers to carry out DNA testing on them.
Prosecuting, Bob Moore told Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court: “A lady and her eight-year-old daughter went to the shower area, leaving her daughter’s bag which contained her daughter’s clothing.
“The defendant, Wallace, entered the cubicle and stole the child’s knickers from the bag. He then left the leisure centre with them.
“The mum and daughter returned to the area and noticed that the knickers were missing. She reported it to centre staff.”
It was not revealed in court how Wallace was caught but he was later interviewed by the police, and he said he had committed similar acts in the weeks running up to the offence.
Mr Moore said: “He was interviewed about the situation and he admitted the offence of theft.
“He said when he was in the leisure centre while he was getting changed, he noticed a pair of child’s knickers on the floor in the cubicle next door.
“He went on to say that it was for doing DNA testing and to do that he steals children’s underwear.
“He said he picked them up and took them from the leisure centre with him.”
Wallace, of Whinchat Close, in the Throston area of Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to one count of stealing a pair of pants.
His solicitor, Dave Smith, mitigating, said: “Something which may prove helpful to the court is the motivation behind the offence.
“It is clear that his primary motivation is not sexual gratification.
“My client has long had substance difficulties, this beginning with cannabis earlier in his life.
“The use of that was replaced by use of so-called synthetic cannabis, which is a legal substance, but which is substantially stronger than its organic counterpart.
“In relation to the use of the substance my client has become quite paranoid in the way he views the world and he’s become involved with conspiracy theories, particularly on the internet.
“This offence relates to that, in that it was set against a background of conspiracy theory he found himself occupied with.
“Once he had obtained the items, he accepts that there became a secondary motive as alleged. That wasn’t the primary motive. The Probation Service do have concerns and he will work with them.”
Chairman of the bench Doreen Goode sentenced Wallace to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from having contact with any female child under the age of 16 unless given consent, and prohibits him from entering any communal changing rooms unless granted permission by the Sex Offender Management Unit.
He was sentenced to a two-year community order with a requirement to comply with a sex offender treatment programme, and ordered to pay £85 costs, a £180 criminal court charge and £2 compensation for the pants.