A nine-year-old girl has told a jury how a man tried to grab her from the street as she ran an errand to the shop in a sleepy village.

The youngster and two other girls, aged eight and nine, had gone to the local store to get a few things for her mum on a Saturday lunchtime in July.

As they headed home she said the man came up behind and grabbed her, before she screamed and broke free as he ran off.

The girl was giving evidence at Swindon Crown Court on the first day of the trial of 24-year-old riding instructor Alexander Benfield.

He is alleged to have been passing though Ashton Keynes when he stopped and tried to drag away little girl in the Park Place area of the village.

When he was questioned the following day, after his car was identified at the scene, the court was told he lied about what he had been wearing that day.

Benfield, of Lawrence Road, Cirencester, denies attempted kidnap and causing actual bodily harm on Saturday, July 8.

Giving evidence by video the girl told how they were walking home from the shop when she was suddenly grabbed from behind.

She said: “Suddenly he was just standing there, grabbing me, and moving forward with me.

“I just didn’t know what happened so I started screaming. I don’t know how he approached me: he was quite silent.

“He just grabbed and started trying to move with me. Then for some reason he just let go of me and then ran around the corner.

“I can’t remember how many times, but I did scream. I think he got a bit frightened that someone might hear me so he let go.”

She said one of the other girls was walking just behind her and also joined in making a noise.

“She was crying and screaming as well, making it louder to give it more chance that someone would hear,” she said.

The girl said that Benfield grabbed her by the shoulder and lower back and tried to walk off with her in the short incident.

“He went like that and then tried to drag me along,” she said, adding she fell and scraped her knees.

After he fled she said she rushed home, where her parents called the police.

The youngster said that her attacker had gone past the other girl, who was younger and smaller, and grabbed at her.

“That made me think he was after me for something: maybe I have seen him before and I didn’t know it,” she said.

Earlier David Reid, prosecuting, told the jury of six men and six women that CCTV footage from the village showed Benfield’s car parked near the shop.

“The girls have started walking down Park Place and very shortly afterwards someone has emerged from Mr Benfield’s car,” he said, playing it to the jury.

Mr Reid said after the alleged incident Benfield went to a branch of Peacocks in Cirencester where he bought a new ‘jazzy’ red shirt.

When he was arrested the day after he insisted he had been wearing it all day on Saturday.

But footage from the stable yard where he worked in nearby Braydon, and from the shop, showed him in the distinctive blue top, the jury were told.

When he was questioned the defendant also said that he had not been to the village where his grandparents lived since the Thursday before.

And he said that the car seen by CCTV must be someone else who had cloned his black Vauxhall Astra.

Benfield denies the charges and the trial, which is expected to last four days, continues.