Man guilty of 'touching up' ladies

PUBLISHED: 16:40 19 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

A MAN who touched up three women in public and pretended he had only been picking up cigarette butts has been given a suspended prison sentence. Anthony Cooper, 43, who was living in a garden shed in Lucas Lane, Hitchin, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Co

A MAN who "touched up" three women in public and pretended he had only been picking up cigarette butts has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Anthony Cooper, 43, who was living in a garden shed in Lucas Lane, Hitchin, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court on Friday to three charges of sexual assault.

Judge John Bevan QC told him: "It is frightening and unpleasant for ladies walking about to be touched up sexually. But this is a difficult case to find a satisfactory solution for."

He passed an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years with supervision and mental health treatment. Cooper must also register as a sex offender for seven years and live at a probation service-approved address.

Sarah Porter, prosecuting, said that on May 2 last year a 64-year-old woman was in a shop in Hitchin and felt a hand go up her skirt. She challenged the man who made out as if he had been picking up a cigarette.

About two hours later he groped the bottom of a 17-year-old crossing the High Street in Hitchin and asked if she wanted to come with him.

Three days later a 33-year-old mother was bending over to tend to her baby son when she felt a hand go up her skirt. Again Cooper showed her a cigarette butt when she confronted him.

All three women made complaints to police and he was arrested but he claimed all the incidents had been accidental and not sexual and that the women were conspiring against him.

Lawrence Selby, defending, said Cooper had a personality disorder for which he had been receiving treatment in hospital.

Judge Bevan said: "The only person you are fooling is yourself if you say that touching up ladies is not sexual.


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