A man with a “fanatical obsession” with small girls targeted a three-year-old child on a bus, a court heard.

Stephen Munden deliberately sat near the child and stroked her hand with his finger – in full view of the girl’s mother and grandmother.

Munden, formerly of Brittany Gardens in Marchwood, was subsequently convicted of sexually touching a child under the age of 13.

The 53-year-old had denied the offence, claiming the touching was accidental.

Appearing at Southampton Crown Court for sentencing, Munden heard David Jenkins, prosecuting, tell Judge Peter Henry that the defendant had admitted ten unrelated offences of possessing or attempting to possess indecent images of children.

The defendant was arrested after using one of the public computers at Hythe library in an attempt to download images, the court heard.

Mr Jenkins said children’s clothes, books and dolls were found at Munden’s home and added: “He has a fanatical obsession with young girls.”

Consultant physiatrist John O’Shea said the defendant was autistic and also suffered from mild learning difficulties.

He had difficulty controlling his sexual interest in small children but the girl on the bus was probably unaware of his intentions, said Mr O’Shea.

Keely Harvey, in mitigation, added: “He did not accept that he deliberately touched the child’s hand.”

But the judge said: “The move from non-contact offences to a contact offence is significant.”

Munden was made the subject of a hospital order and detained under the Mental Health Act.