A SEX offender who molested a dementia suffering grandma while on a suspended sentence for abusing a child has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Old soldier David Harrod was given a chance by a judge last year, after he admitted sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl after befriending her family.

But having moved in to a care home with his wife the 73-year-old was caught groping an extremely vulnerable 86-year-old widow, who suffers severe vascular dementia.

David Maunder, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court the victim had been at the Wiltshire home for a number of years before the Harrods moved in.

He said as well as dementia she had endured a heart attack and numerous mini-strokes, which had left her groggy, shaky and confused.

On April 29 her daughter was on the way home from a visit when she returned, fearing she had left the ironing board up.

After letting herself into the room she saw Harrod on her mum, whose top had been pulled up, groping her breasts.

When she asked what he was doing he made an excuse and left and then she realised the door alarm alerting staff to someone being in the apartment had been turned off.

The daughter asked her mum what was happening and she told her 'she didn't really know', Mr Maunder said.

He said the victim's son had also expressed concerns over what his mother had told him.

A carer at the home had also noticed how on another occasion the alarm was again turned off and she went in to find the defendant there looking 'sheepish'.

Harrod, formerly of The Croft, Urchfont, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder inhibiting choice.

He initially denied the matter, saying the woman was consenting, only changing his plea on the morning of his trial after a judge ruled the jury could hear about his past.

In February last year he received a 15-month jail term suspended for 18 months for abusing the 12-year-old girl, who had learning difficulties.

Mr Maunder said that in both cases the defendant had suggested that the victims, who were each vulnerable, were willing participants, showing a 'transference of blame'.

Charley Pattison, defending, said her client, who has four children and nine grandchildren, had now lost his marriage as his wife of 51 years was seeking a divorce.

She said Harrod, who is in ill health, was full of remorse and very sorry for what he had done and had already served six months in custody on remand.

Jailing him Judge Robert Pawson said: "It is not the first time you have targeted a vulnerable victim for your own gratification.

"The sentence you received in 2016 was 15 months suspended for 18 months. There was still about six months of that suspended sentence to run.

"You were given a chance by this court and an opportunity to rehabilitate yourself. It is an opportunity you singularly failed to take.

"You chose your victim due to her mental vulnerability. The facts of the previous conviction make it clear to me that your sexual offending follows a pattern.

"It seems you lack true remorse. You may be ashamed but you blame your victim in part.

"You continued to deny realising she was suffering from dementia. You continued to deny in the pre-sentence report that you behaved in this way for any sexual gratification.

"And your plea of guilty was entered at the very, very, last minute before trial. Because of that, the suggestion you are exhibiting any real remorse, it seems to me, is not borne out by the facts."

As well as jailing Harrod for 42 months he also ordered he register as a sex offender and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for life.

A statement from the victim’s family said: “We are pleased this registered sex offender has received a custodial sentence which will prevent him from abusing others. We are concerned and disappointed by the lack of respect and remorse from Aster Living and the probationary service.

“They had a duty of care to safeguard my mother and all the other vulnerable residents in the care home. This they failed to do.

“An investigation needs to be carried out to ensure the care, safety and security is not breached again by Aster and the probation service.”

Jean Dalziel, Aster housing, care and support director said: “I would like to express how deeply saddened I am to hear of such a distressing incident and I am absolutely appalled by the actions of Mr Harrod.

"I am also very sorry to hear that the family involved feel as though we have let them down. We have a duty of care to every customer who lives in one of our 29,000 homes and we take all reasonable measures possible to ensure the safety of our customers.

"Mr Harrods actions were inexcusable, however I would like to reassure the family and our customers that incidents like these are extremely rare and we continue to work closely with our partner agencies to help keep our customers safe.”

A National Probation Service spokesperson said:“This was an appalling crime and we apologise sincerely to the victim and her family for unacceptable failings in this case.

“We recognise that the necessary safeguards were not in place and we have carried out a full investigation to identify lessons learnt and to help prevent a case like this from happening again.”