A JUDGE told a man he should be ‘ashamed’ after he performed a sex act in front of two 11-year-old girls more than 30 years ago.

Mark Anthony Foster, of Forster Avenue, Weaverham, avoided an immediate spell behind bars when he was given a 21-month suspended sentence for two counts of indecency with a child.

A jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on two of the seven counts following a week-long trial at Chester Crown Court in June.

The 60-year-old denied any wrong-doing during the trial, saying the girls had either lied or misunderstood, but following his conviction had since told a probation officer, “I may have done it”.

In a pre-sentence report, Foster admitted he may have carried out the vile act when he was 'immature and silly' – despite being married with children and in his early 30s at the time.

He also told probation how he had enjoyed flirting with teenage girls back in the 1980s and 1990s because it made him 'feel like a stud'.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Roberts told Chester Crown Court how both victims had been babysitting Foster’s children while he went out with his wife.

“Both girls say there were in primary school at the time,” he said.

“Foster came home early and joined the two girls, who were watching television in the lounge.

“He sat in a chair next to them and placed a cushion on his lap.

“Both girls describe how when he removed the cushion, they could see his erect penis, which he was stroking.”

Giving personal victim statements, one of the victims said she feared she wouldn’t be believed at the time so kept quiet. Another went on to explain her she felt guilty for not saying anything until she was approached by the police in 2018.

“From that point on, I made a promise to myself to tell the truth,” one of them said.

While another added, “He might not remember me, but I remember him.”

Gavin Edmondson, defending, said the passage of time from when the offences took place acted as a strong form of mitigation.

“This was an isolated and spontaneous incident,” he said.

“He has engaged well with probation and been very analytical in his conversations with them.

“He has opened up to them.

“Although he said he didn’t remember the incident, on reflection, post his conviction, he reflects that he could have done it.”

Judge Michael Leeming told Foster he should be ashamed of himself as he explained the maximum sentence for the now expired offence of indecency with a child had been two years at the time – with the modern equivalent now carrying a maximum term of 10 years.

“You’ve got on with your life during the past 30 years,” he told him.

“They can only now get on with theirs now you’ve been found guilty.

“You have admitted you may have acted inappropriately saying it was a stupid mistake and that you were immature and silly.

“But you were a married man with children.

“You also told probation how you used to enjoy flirting with teenage girls because it made you feel like a stud.

“You should be ashamed of your behaviour.”

However, Judge Leeming accepted the overall recommendation of the probation service and agreed that Foster was someone who could be rehabilitated.

He sentenced him to 21 months in prison but suspended that for a period of two years – while also imposing a 12-month long community order, saying he believed this would adequately protect the public.

Foster must carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and complete 35 rehabilitation days with the probation service. He must also sign the sex offenders register for the next 10 years.

After the court room had cleared, one of Foster’s family members could be clearly heard shouting abuse at one of the victims outside, calling her “a lying b***h”.