Sex pest groped women as they walked to work

Sex pest Stuart Snowball groped and slapped terrified women on their way to work.

The 18-year-old attacked four women over two days in June.

Snowball would target his victims in Sunderland city centre, sneaking up and grabbing them then running off.

He sexually assaulted two women on the morning of June 24, Sunderland Magistrates' Court heard.

Prosecutor Helen Wareham said the first victim, a 41-year-old woman, was walking to work at 9am.

"She was aware of being followed by someone who was walking at a very fast pace and continued to keep up with her," she said.

"She described them as being 'too close for comfort' and knew something was going to happen."

Snowball then grabbed her between the legs.

In a statement read out in court, the woman said she had been left shocked and shaken by the attack.

Snowball's second victim was assaulted the same morning, when he accosted her from behind, grabbing her bottom.

The terrified 41-year-old woman described pushing him backwards and shouting at him.

Snowball's next attack was the following day at 8am, when he lunged at a 35-year-old woman, grabbing below her waist band, before jogging round her.

His brave victim said: "You silly boy, I've seen your face".

The final attack took place at 4.30pm on June 27, when Snowball smacked the bottom of a 43-year-old woman.

He ran off when she pulled out her mobile.

At an earlier hearing, Snowball, of Oswald Terrace, Grangetown, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to four indecent assaults.

Heidi Surtees, defending, produced a psychiatric report saying Snowball was under a lot of stress at the time, as his disabled mother was undergoing an operation, he was having relationship problems and misusing drink and drugs.

She added that he had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at the age of four but had stopped taking prescribed medication at the age of 14.

He was now taking the medication again and had restarted his college course in engineering.

District Judge Roger Elsey imposed an 18-month community order with a supervision requirement, saying: "These are serious offences which I have no doubt have been committed at least in part because of your judgment being affected by illegal drugs which you were abusing at the time the offences were committed."

He went on to say he was sure all Snowball's victims would still be affected by their ordeal and they all deserved compensation.

But he was unable to award this, or make an order for costs, as Snowball had no income.

Snowball was also ordered to notify police of his address within three days of the hearing, and any change of address after that.