Romanian man jailed for sex offences on board buses - St Albans

02/06/2014

Cornel Popa was jailed today, Monday, 02 June 2014, for a string of sex offences on board buses.

Romanian Popa would target young teenage girls on their way to school or college, rubbing himself in front of them and making lewd suggestions. And even on a bus taking him to court, where he faced sentencing for sexually assault a young woman, he still committed offences.

Popa, aged 44, a father of four from High Street, Waltham Cross, admitted two offences of sexual assault and four offences of outraging public decency when he appeared in custody today at St Albans Crown Court.

It was in January of this year, that Popa was arrested for touching the bottom of a woman cyclist. He was charged with sexual assault and granted bail as he waited for a court date. But today, Simon Stirling, prosecuting, said in February of this year Popa had boarded a bus travelling between Hatfield and Stevenage and rubbed himself over the top of his trousers in front of another woman passenger, leaving her shocked and upset.

The court then heard how how on 12 March this year Popa was due to appear before magistrates' in Stevenage in connection with the January incident. That morning he boarded a 310 bus that was travelling towards Ware. The prosecutor said there were a number of teenager boys and girls on the bus making their way to school/college. A 16-year-old girl became concerned when Popa sat opposite her and kissed her hand and told her he liked her, said Mr Stirling. She noticed he was rubbing over the top of his trousers and he told her: "This is for you."  The court was told Popa made another lewd suggestion to the girl before she got off the bus.

A 17-year-old girl travelling to school had also been approached by Popa that morning on a bus. Again she noticed he was rubbing himself and eventually she complained to the driver. Another teenage girl noticed Popa appeared to be getting a "thrill" as he rubbed himself over his clothing in front of her. The court heard Popa subsequently appeared in court that day and admitted a charge of sexually assaulting the woman cyclist in January. He was given a two-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and placed on supervision with an unpaid work order. That afternoon, having left court, he was promptly arrested again for the offences earlier in the day.

The court heard he had a previous conviction for attempted rape back in Romania, for which he had been jailed for five years.  Judge John Plumstead was told Popa's four children had returned to Romania with their mother and had ended up in care.

He was jailed for a total of three years and four months. "Unless he changes, this man is a danger to his victims," said the judge. His name will also go on the sex offenders' register and the judge also made him the subject of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO), which prevents him from approaching lone women on buses or in any public place or placing his hands down his trousers in a public place.

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