A MAN who followed a seven-year-old girl into a toilet cubicle before attacking her has been handed a community order.

A court heard that the young child was 'terrified' by her ordeal and that she had been 'suffocated' by her aggressor.

James King denied any sexual motive for the attack but prosecutors said there were 'concerns' about what the motivation had been for the violence.

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The 21-year-old of Howitt's Lane, Eynesbury, Cambridgeshire, had admitted one count alleging assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

He was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court today.

The court heard that King was working as a groundsman at a cricket club in Great Tew, West Oxfordshire, at the time of the attack in August 2017.

It was said that for reasons he was 'unable or unwilling to explain' King 'followed' the girl into a toilet cubicle.

While it was not known whether the door was locked or not the child was unable to get out.

King went on to put his hand over the child's mouth with such force that it left her with bruising to her jaw line.

She was left 'terrified' as a result of the attack and prosecutors said during the incident King was telling her to be quiet.

The girl said she was 'suffocated' during her ordeal and that she also bit her tongue.

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Quoting from a report by the National Probation Service prosecutors said there was a 'likely sexual motivation underlying his offending.'

Gerard Renouf, on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "He denies it was sexually motivated but I remain concerned there was a sexual motivation underlying this."

The court went on to hear that King has no other previous convictions for any past offences.

In mitigation Daniel Martin, defending, said that his client was young at the time of the offence and that there was also a 'lack of maturity.'

He said that King had an autism spectrum disorder along with other underlying difficulties, and that he had developed a major depressive illness since the offence.

He said: "The offence clearly isn't a sexual one and the defendant has not accepted a sexual motive.

"We are dealing with a single incident, previously [he has] no convictions."

Sentencing, Judge Maria Lamb called the attack 'a quite awful incident.'

King was handed a community order for two years.

As part of that order he must abide by a residency condition requirement for 12 months and complete 30 days rehabilitation activity requirement.

He must also pay a statutory victim surcharge.

After discussions on a proposed sexual harm prevention order the court decided not to impose any such protective order.