Man jailed for sex assault - Watford

19/06/2014

A Syrian restaurant worker who stalked a young woman through Watford before grabbing her bottom and exposing himself was jailed for two and a half years today, Thursday, 19 June 2014.

Mohamad Sarouji, aged 20, took hold of his victim in Victoria Passage in the town and said repeatedly: "Come on. Come on."

The victim, who is in her 20s, told the police that when she saw him with the fly on his jeans unzipped she thought she was going to be raped, St Albans Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Michael Williams said the woman had left Cameo night club just before two o'clock on a Tuesday morning, having drunk half a pint of beer. "Her route took her through Watford town centre and she walked past Rooster's chicken shop where the defendant was sitting, having a meal. CCTV showed he followed her for about 7 minutes - sometimes walking on the other side of the road.  She was not aware she was being followed until she went into Victoria Passage and heard footsteps behind her," he said.

The woman said: "I kept walking quickly and tried to get away from him. I felt him touch my bottom. I turned around and pushed him away. He grabbed my arms above the elbow. The fly on his jeans was undone and he exposed himself. He was aroused and said 'Come here. Come here' over and over again." She said she started shouting out the name of her landlord, who lived nearby and, after about 30 seconds, Sarouji fled.

Mr Williams said that as a result of the assault the woman was too scared to go out at night.

The police traced Sarouji after trawling through CCTV footage and arrested him. He made full admissions saying that he had become sexually aroused when the woman walked past.

Sarouji, who was aided by an Arabic interpreter, of Market Street, Watford, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman on 15 October last year.

Stuart Sprawson, defending, said Sarouji was of previous good character and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He said there was no indication of significant planning. "This was a coincidence to start with. He had not sought out his victim. He has shown remorse through his guilty plea. He accepts he was the person responsible from the outset."

He said Sarouji was immature and mixed up sexually. He also suffers with a genetic liver disorder that caused the death of his sister when she was aged just 17. Mr Sprawson said he was staying in the town's Travelodge while waiting for accommodation from Watford council.

Jailing him, Judge Stephen Gullick said: "Young women are entitled to walk the street of our towns and cities in safety without them being molested and sexually assaulted by men such as you. You targeted her as someone appropriate to satisfy your sexual needs.  It was an unpleasant, unwelcome and unjustified experience. It is an extremely serious offence."

The judge said a probation officer had assessed him as being of a high risk of re-offending. He must sign on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

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