Wife turns over pervert who sexually assaulted bus passenger '“ after spotting his picture in the Sunderland Echo

A pervert who groped a stranger in a daylight sex attack was snared after his wife saw his photograph in the Sunderland Echo and contacted police.

Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 1:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 1st March 2016, 1:21 pm

Donald MacInness, 50, befriended his vulnerable victim on board a bus before assaulting her outside her home after following her off the vehicle, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Officers issued an appeal at the time to find the attacker. However, it was not until a CCTV image from the bus was published in the Echo, that MacInness was caught after his wife recognised him in the photograph and reported him to the police.


Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The court heard the incident occurred after MacInness came across the victim last October on a bus in the Sunderland area.

Prosecutor Louise Harrison said: “This was a stranger. He has followed her off the bus and confronted her. I appreciate this was quite a frightening situation for her.

“This complainant is vulnerable due to her personal circumstances.”

MacInnes, formerly of Cheadle Road, Hylton Castle, but who now lives in a bedsit in Tatham Street, Sunderland, had previously pleaded not guilty to sexual assault.


However, he changed his plea to guilty on the day of his trial.

Phillipa Wylie, defending, said CCTV footage showed what happened on the bus.

“It’s extremely alarming behaviour,” she said. “This lady gets on the bus and sits in the seat opposite him.

“There is clearly an exchange of communication – they were smiling and laughing.

“At the time he was drunk. He can’t remember very much about it.

“He asked her ‘do I know you?’ She said ‘I’m just friends with everyone’. Part of her condition is that she can come across as very friendly.

“He’s got off the bus with her and walked back to her address. She was up against a wall and he’s put his hands over the top of her clothing and moved them up her body touching her stomach and breasts. Someone then arrives at the building and shouts at him to go away.”

Miss Wylie said MacInness is of good character, bar an alcohol-related matter in 2006.

“He is utterly horrified by his behaviour,” she added. “He is very remorseful for his actions and he wants to make it quite clear to the court and to her that he meant no distress or harm to her.”

Miss Wylie said MacInnes has worked most of his life as a painter and decorator.

“He accepts that alcohol has always been a problem for him and he accepts it will have been distressing for the lady.

“It’s had a devastating impact on his own personal life.

“He was featured in the Sunderland Echo. They had a picture of him, and his wife of 16 years saw that in the paper. She reported him.

“He lost his family life. He’s lost the family home. It’s had a detrimental impact on his mental health and his drinking.”

Miss Wylie said her client will have difficulty working in the local area after what has happened.

“He knows he will never recover from this,” she added. “He will have a sexual offence on his record.

“He recognises that he has a problem with alcohol. He has mental health issues and he’s spoken to the crisis team. He is very suicidal because of what happened.

“This is a man who has worked the majority of his life in a trade and has kept his family in secure accommodation. It’s all come crashing down because of a foolish mistake that shouldn’t have happened.”

The bench asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the Probation Service, prior to sentence on March 15.

He was bailed on the condition that he does not communicate with prosecution witnesses and that he does not enter a specified area of Sunderland. He is also prohibited from contacting his estranged wife.