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Published: 00:01, 26 June 2014 |
Twisted Edwin Griggs, now 82, sexually abused the youngsters when they came into his premises in Strand Street.
His 40-year secret has been revealed after he was convicted of sex crimes by a jury at Canterbury Crown Court.
He was due to be sentenced this week, but the hearing was postponed after Judge James O'Mahony ordered an extended probation report.
Rosemary Burns, prosecuting told how in the 1970s, Griggs owned and ran The Chocolate Box in Sandwich with his wife Alice, who died two years ago.
"He sat in an armchair and told her to stand with her back to the chair and then ordered her to lift up her dress and knickers..." - Rosemary Burns, prosecuting
Two young schoolgirls revealed stories of Griggs' ploy to lure them into taking sweets.
It was, said the judge, "like moths round a flame."
One victim revealed how she went into the shop with a friend, who was then accused by Griggs of stealing an egg from a shelf.
She was told to leave, but her friend was kept inside the shop.
Ms Burns said that weeks later, the victim returned to the shop where Griggs took her into a "special" room.
"He sat in an armchair and told her to stand with her back to the chair and then ordered her to lift up her dress and knickers," he said. "He then fondled her buttocks with both his hands.
"Eventually he stopped and told her to go, but not before he secured her promise to return. The same sequence of events took place and this happened three times."
The vile pervert then made lurid sex suggestions to the pre-pubescent child – and the victim refused to return to the shop and feared Griggs would inform her parents of the alleged thefts.
The second victim went into the shop in the early 1970s with a friend and the two were deliberately left alone.
Griggs then ordered the friend to leave and accused the girl of stealing, which she denied, and then ordered her to remove her jeans and underwear.
The prosecutor said: "The defendant took advantage of young girls visiting his sweet shop, by offering them the opportunity to shoplift and then threatening them with exposure to their parents and or the police.
"This secured their compliance in the sexual activity that would take place in the back of the shop and it ensured that they didn't complain to anyone about what was happening. The fondling of bare backsides displays a clear sexual proclivity on the part of the defendant towards the adolescent girls."
Griggs, of Strand Street, denied the offences but was convicted on three indecent assaults.
He told police when he was interviewed: "They were different times and people used to steal things.
"The rows I had with people... kids and young people used to do it for the devilment, not necessarily because they wanted things, but they used to think it was funny or clever."
Griggs admitted he had smacked bottoms because the children had "offered their bottoms", adding he realised he should not have done that.
The retired shopkeeper added: "There was a war going on between them and us, all the time."
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