A PREDATOR has been jailed for sexually assaulting a series of young women – one just 14 years old – on board buses around the city.
David Lazarescu, whose victims included a pregnant woman and two sisters, was placed on the sex offenders register for ten years.
Today, one victim said Lazarescu’s eight-month sentence was “not enough” for the repeated assaults on Lothian Buses services.
The 50-year-old, from Northfield, was convicted of six counts of sexual assault after a two-day trial last month.
He claimed his actions were down to a medical condition which made him “shiver” when the temperature changed.
Sentencing him at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, Sheriff Frank Crowe said Lazarescu’s “blanket denial” made it difficult for him to consider anything but a custodial punishment.
He told Lazarescu, who was accompanied by a Romanian translator, that the assaults were “of a remarkably similar nature”.
He said: “The young females were travelling on buses which had spare seats and were seated next to the window. On each occasion you sat down beside them and caused your legs to splay out whereby you came into contact with the womens’ thighs, and the women all seemed to freeze.
“You also touched the young women on the side of their bodies near to their breasts.”
Sheriff Crowe described the ordeal experienced by the 14-year-old, who was travelling to her weekend job on the number 26 bus.
“I was shown video footage which confirmed ample other seats, but you sat next to her and touched her legs for about 15 minutes,” he said. “She squashed herself into the corner.”
Sheriff Crowe said Lazarescu had targeted victims in their teens or early 20s, believing they would “not have the confidence” to report the crimes.
“You forced them into a corner so you could obtain your own sexual gratification,” he added.
Lazarescu’s shaken victims burst into tears in the public gallery when Sheriff Crowe sent him to prison.
An expressionless Lazarescu looked down at the floor as he was led away to custody.
Victim Sarah Ross, 23, who waived her right to anonymity to speak to the Evening News, said afterwards: “I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’m glad he’s got something at least. I was worried he wasn’t going to get anything.
“I’m angry but relieved. It’s not enough in my eyes but at least he’ll be on the sex offenders register for ten years.”
Miss Ross 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 worker still attends counselling sessions to cope with the anxiety.
The mother of the two sisters who fell victim to Lazarescu said it had been a harrowing ordeal for the whole family.
The parent, who asked not to be named, believes her second daughter – who was only 14 at the time – was targeted because he thought she was her sister, who he had assaulted on a previous occasion.
Detective Inspector Keith Fairbairn said: “Police Scotland is committed to tackling offences of a sexual nature. Due to the work of officers, assisted by the public and Lothian Buses, a male has been convicted for numerous sexual offences.
“This conviction should send a clear message that we will investigate such matters thoroughly and anyone responsible will be brought to justice.”