Stevenage bus pervert spared jail

Benjamin Harris caught on CCTV

Benjamin Harris caught on CCTV - Credit: Archant

A MAN who committed sexual acts on buses in front of teenage girls told police he exposed himself as he had not had a girlfriend for a while, a court has heard.

Benjamin Harris targeted the women on public transport across Hertfordshire seven times between September and October last year, including an incident on a Stevenage bus.

The victims, the youngest of which was 13 years old, were left “disturbed and disgusted”, St Albans Crown Court heard last Friday.

Prosecutor Robert Colver said: “In respect to each of these occasions in that seven occasions he exposed himself. The occasions seemed to be targeted towards teenage females.”

Mr Colver revealed police had set up a special operation to catch Harris, 29, and caught him at a bus stop.

He said: “The police were able to go to a bus stop and set up an operation called Operation Bancer and when the defendant was arrested he said ‘I shouldn’t have done it, I know it is wrong, I haven’t had a girlfriend for a while’.”

Harris, of Hatfield Road, St Albans, had previously pleaded guilty to the crimes and was remanded in custody.

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Before the hearing he was subject to psychiatric examination which found he had no mental health issues.

A report read out in court by defence lawyer David Smither stated: “He has no mental disorder, he is a sexually frustrated loner.”

Judge Stephen Gullick spared Harris jail as he thought if he went to prison he would not get the help he needed but was concerned about letting him loose.

He said: “I have to sentence you for a whole series of very upsetting offences late during the end of last year on buses where you exposed yourself in front of teenage girls which was very upsetting for them.”

Harris was sentenced to seven three-year community orders to run concurrently and must attend a sexual offenders’ programme.

He must sign the sex offenders’ register and is subject to a sexual prevention order.