Bot­tom-slap­ping cy­clist spared jail as court told he is ‘crip­plingly shy’

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Daily Tele­graph Re­porter

A CY­CLIST who ter­rorised lone women by rid­ing up be­hind them and slap­ping their bot­toms was spared jail yesterday af­ter a court heard he was “crip­plingly shy” and un­able to cope in prison.

Con­stantin Bar­butu, 22, wore a hood as he smacked or groped women walk­ing, run­ning or cy­cling in Brighton.

The Ro­ma­nian dish-washer ini­tially de­nied 21 charges of sex­ual as­sault, then pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial to crimes against 11 women.

How­ever, Judge David Ren­nie showed him mercy at Hove Crown Court, say­ing he was so “se­verely in­tel­lec­tu­ally im­paired” that he could not han­dle a prison sen­tence.

Hand­ing him a 12-month sus­pended sen­tence and or­der­ing him to com­plete 40 days of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion with pro­ba­tion, the judge said: “Were it not for the fact that two ex­perts agree that you do have se­verely im­paired in­tel­lec­tual func­tion­ing, you would be go­ing straight to prison to­day. How­ever, you do have these very real problems.”

Judge Ren­nie told Bar­butu that what he chose to do to 11 strangers sim­ply go­ing about their busi­ness had caused “great fear” and “on­go­ing an­guish”.

The at­tacker, dressed in grey track­suit trousers, did not re­act as an in­ter­preter re­layed pro­ceed­ings. The court heard he had strug­gled to learn English since ar­riv­ing in the UK three years ago be­cause of his in­tel­lec­tual im­pair­ment.

Bar­butu first struck in Septem­ber 2016 and car­ried out a spate of at­tacks be­tween the end of De­cem­ber that year and Fe­bru­ary 2017. He was work­ing in a shop­ping cen­tre restau­rant at the time and liv­ing with his girl­friend in Hove.

Po­lice in East Sus­sex be­gan an in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter more than 24 re­ports of such in­ci­dents in the city. Bar­butu was ar­rested af­ter a se­cu­rity guard who had read re­ports on the case saw him tar­get­ing two women and re­ported him.

Piers Reed, pros­e­cut­ing, said: “The de­fen­dant ap­pears to have iden­ti­fied sole, in­di­vid­ual fe­males. He is al­ways on a bike, al­ways wear­ing a hoodie up. The usual pat­tern is he strikes them on the bot­tom and rides off.”

Vic­tims told in state­ments how Bar­butu had made them feel un­safe. One said he squeezed her bot­tom then re­turned to do so again, as she watched him cir­cling her and “smirk­ing”.

An­other said: “His be­hav­iour was men­ac­ing and I was alone in a dark, iso­lated place where no one would hear a scream.”

Richard El­liott, de­fend­ing, de­scribed Bar­butu as “crip­plingly shy” and fright­ened of com­ing to court, adding: “He is sorry for what he has done. Pun­ish­ment will not help him.”

In 2008, Judge Ren­nie gave a man a 12-month sus­pended sen­tence and 200 hours’ com­mu­nity ser­vice for hid­ing il­le­gal weapons in his grand­mother’s flat. James Kelly, then 20, had faced up to five years in prison.

Judge Ren­nie said Kelly’s “ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances” and guilty plea con­trib­uted to his de­ci­sion to give him a sus­pended sen­tence. Paula Ogung­boro, of Moth­ers Against Guns, called the judge a “soft touch”.

Con­stantin Bar­butu leaves Hove Crown Court af­ter re­ceiv­ing his sus­pended sen­tence

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