March 1999

Man jailed for rape bid on toddler

A machine operator was jailed for four years today for attempting to rape a toddler.

Matthew Fletcher, 27, from Woodstock, was convicted of attacking the 23-month-old after her mother found him in bed with the child. The girl was naked, with scratches and bruises to her back and bottom.

Fletcher had denied attempted rape, but was found guilty by an Oxford Crown Court jury in January.

Michael Hall, defending, asked Judge Anthony King today to be lenient, saying the defendant had no paedophile tendencies.

“There is no explanation as to what happened on that day in this isolated incident,” he said.

“This young man was drunk and had been drinking throughout the evening.”

Mr Hall told the hearing that Fletcher was still “in denial” about the incident. The court heard Fletcher had 11 previous convictions for violence and dishonesty – none of a sexual nature.

Jailing him, Judge King said: “This was a very serious offence. The explanation for it may lie substantially in the drink you had consumed.”

The trial jury heard that Fletcher was found in bed with the child, but told the court he had no idea how he got there. Fletcher drank eight pints of beer and some wine the evening before the incident and claimed he could not remember how he got into bed with the child.

The mother took the child to be examined by a GP and the police were informed after scratches, bruises and another injury were found on her. The nightdress the child was wearing when she was put to bed was never recovered. The court heard swabs taken from the child’s body for analysis did not reveal any of Fletcher’s DNA.

Judge King told Fletcher he would have to register with the police following his release.

The court heard that Fletcher will be segregated from other prisoners while serving his sentence.