A PREDATOR targeted a pregnant woman and a schoolgirl in a campaign of sexual abuse on board city buses.
Seedy David Lazarescu, 50, preyed on female commuters by groping their legs and rubbing against them as they travelled on Lothian Buses in morning rush-hour.
Victims told how Lazarescu ignored empty rows of seats to perch next to them and casually touch their legs with his hand before forcing his body against theirs until they were sandwiched between him and the bus window.
One traumatised woman said she will never forget the smirk on his face as she got up to leave.
Lazarescu was convicted of sexually abusing six women – including a 14-year-old girl – on board Capital buses and may have committed the deviant acts for up to six years.
Today, two victims of the bus pest have waived their right to anonymity to speak out about their ordeal.
Sarah Ross, 23, was so disturbed by the attack that she developed a phobia about travelling on public transport and has since been diagnosed with mental health problems.
The recruitment administrator still attends counselling sessions to cope with the anxiety sparked by her experience with Lazarescu.
She had been listening to her iPod and texting her boyfriend on the number four bus when Lazarescu’s lewd behaviour left her in floods of tears.
“I was quite unwell that day so I didn’t really think about it,” she said.
“But when the bus started getting busier he started shoving up against me.
“He started touching me and I couldn’t scream or shout. The next minute I started crying and I hoped someone on the bus would get to hear me.”
Miss Ross told how she suffered in silence after being frozen by terror but managed to type a description of Lazarescu on her phone and immediately reported him to police.
“Since the incident I have been diagnosed with mental health problems, depression and anxiety and I was unable to go on buses,” she said.
“I had to buy a car not long after it and my mum had to come with me when I travelled on the bus.
“I was even going to give up my job because I couldn’t cope.”
Lazarescu, who lives in Northfield, went on trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last week facing eight sexual assault charges – including one dating back to December 2007 that was later dropped – and was convicted of six.
His victims include a woman who was five months pregnant and a 14-year-old girl travelling between Edinburgh and Musselburgh.
The methods of attack all follow a similar pattern. Lazarescu sits next to the women and presses his legs, hands or body against them in busy carriages. On several occasions, he pinned his victims to their seat by thrusting an elbow into their body before fondling their leg.
Trainee hairdresser Billie Mackie, 18, told how she was travelling to work on the number five bus when Lazarescu launched a sexual assault two years ago.
She said: “He kept moving closer and closer to me, started rubbing his leg against mine, and had me pressed up against the glass.
“He also started popping his elbow into my hip so I couldn’t move. I froze in fear – I didn’t know what to do.
“I managed to get off the bus and say ‘excuse me’. He just had a big smirk on his face.”
Miss Mackie added: “There were spare seats when he came and sat next to me, including double seats.
“Then he came closer and pushed me up against the glass.
“He also had his hand on his rucksack but half his hand was on my leg.”
She said that the ordeal had undermined her confidence when using on public transport.
“Now when I’m on buses, as soon as somebody sits next to me I’m always on my guard,” she said.
“If someone sits next to me and there’s a free seat, my heart starts racing.
“It’s a horrible feeling.
“I think there will be other girls out there that will have been too scared to say anything.”
Lazarescu was convicted following a two-day hearing that featured CCTV footage of the incidents.
A not guilty plea to a complaint dating back to December 2007 was accepted by the court, while another charge relating to an assault in September last year was found not proven.
Both Lazarescu’s victims who bravely spoke to the Evening News pray he will be jailed for the catalogue of sexual abuse.
Sarah Ross said she would not rest until he was imprisoned for his crimes.
“I really want him to go to prison, if he doesn’t I’m going to try and take it further,” she said.
“I think he should be in prison right now.”
And she added: “One of those he targeted was a 14-year-old girl and then there was a pregnant woman.
“Maybe one day he will decide that’s not going to give him a kick any more and he’ll decide to do something else. But in my head I’m thinking there’s got to be a point where he will go even further.”