A 27-year-old Penarth man – Mark Maxwell – has been jailed for 4 years after admitting to police a series of offences in which he groped women on the streets of Penarth.
Cardiff Crown Court was told that Maxwell had received “sexual gratification” from the assaults .
In an earlier hearing Maxwell had already pleaded guilty to 2 counts of sexual assault – the first of which occurred in Plassey St Penarth on February 14th 2017.
The court was told his victim had been walking along the street, whilst Maxwell was walking in the opposite direction – towards her – on the other side of the road. He crossed the road in front of her and carried on walking towards her. As he approached he made eye contact with her – which made her feel uncomfortable. She looked away, but as they passed each other he reached out and touched on the right thigh and squeezed her right buttock – causing the woman to “freeze in shock” as he walked away.
In a victim impact statement, the woman said the attack had made her feel vulnerable; she now avoided walking outside at night and no longer felt safe in Penarth. She had reported the matter to the police because, she said, as a woman, she had “the right to walk the street without fear” and that women should be “respected in society”.
Maxwell was later identified by officers on CCTV and was arrested and interviewed – but said nothing other than “no comment” to the police .
A second offence was then committed in the vicinity of Cardiff Bay Barrage on April 26th 2017 whilst Maxwell was on bail – this time on a woman who was out running. As she ran past him the court heard Maxwell had smiled and grabbed her bottom. She shouted at him and then reported the matter to police.
Once again Maxwell was again identified on CCTV pictures and then fully admitted the offences as well as admitting he had carried out similar assaults over the course of 9 years.
Maxwell’s barrister Sue Ferrier described her client as falling within the “autistic spectrum” and was someone who “struggled in the community”. She said: “There is, on his part, a lack of understanding and appreciation. He says when he does it he feels sorry afterwards for what he has done and he appreciates it’s wrong. Perhaps the problem he has is forming adult relationships and this causes him frustration.”
The court heard that Maxwell has a record of numerous previous offences for sexual assault and subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
In passing sentence, Judge Stephen Hopkins QC said: “You say you had ‘misread signals’ and felt the victims were interested in you sexually and would not mind you touching them. You showed no remorse whatsoever”. He said “My test as a judge is to do the right thing by the defendant but more importantly to protect the public – in particular the female population of Penarth who seem to be at real risk of your behaviour.”