A TEENAGE boy has been given a referral order after he snatched an eight-year-old girl from the streets of Padiham.

The attack on the girl prompted the courts to order the 14-year-old to live outside the Burnley and Padiham area for his own personal safety, as a bail condition.

He confessed to taking the girl to a metal footbridge between Canning Street and Back Thompson Street, over Green Brook, where he molested her just after lunchtime on January 2.

Prosecutors said he indecently touched the youngster underneath her clothes at the secluded spot.

The youth, now 15, from Padiham who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted taking the eight-year-old out of the control of her parent, an offence under the Child Abduction Act, and a further charge of sexual touching.

His pleas were made before District Judge Gerald Chalk as long ago as January 24, when the case was committed to Burnley Crown Court as a ‘grave’ crime.

The judge at that hearing said there was a suggestion the offence could have been ‘more serious’ if third parties had not intervened in the incident at the time.

But a crown court judge later ruled the case should be heard before a youth panel and the case was further delayed, following hearings in Burnley and Blackburn, while a district judge could be found to eventually hear the matter and pass sentence.

Another two charges, one related abduction offence and common assault, which the boy originally denied and defence lawyers insisted were ‘duplicitous’, were not proceeded with.

The 14-year-old, appearing before a video link court at Accrington, was given a 12-month referral order to Burnley Youth Offending Team and ordered to pay £200 to the victim’s family for the sexual assault.