Cleaner avoids jail for kissing frightened teenager

A London Underground cleaner who kissed a frightened teenager after posing as a ticket inspector avoided jail today.

Muhammad Bashir, 34, was ordered to carry out 175 hours of unpaid work in the community and told he would have to remain on the sex offenders register for five years.

He accosted a 17-year-old from Edinburgh in February last year, accused her of wrongly having a child's ticket and ordered her to follow him, Southwark Crown Court heard.

He led the tearful girl through corridors at Euston station as she worried about being caught with the wrong ticket by a man she believed was an inspector.

Andrew Collings, prosecuting, said matters turned "sinister" when Bashir got her on her own and told her he would let her off if she kissed him on the lips, before pushing her up against a wall to kiss her.

The upset teenager managed to raise the alarm and Bashir was arrested.

He pleaded guilty on 31 March this year to one count of sexual assault on 7 February last year, the court heard.

In mitigation, Jason Reed said Bashir, of Grantham Road, Ilford, Essex, was a man of previous good character who felt "deep shame and regret".

"What stands out from the report is his expression of genuine remorse and bewilderment of what came over him that day," he said.

Sentencing Bashir today, Judge Peter Fingret said: "This appalling offence is aggravated by your posing as a person of authority on the station where you were working as a cleaner. This pretence was made towards a young girl of 17 who clearly needed help and not the depravity of a person such as yourself.

"You exploited her fragility and, having taken her through various corridors which must have been a very scary situation for her, you then kissed her on the lips, forcing her into that position."

He told the court the teenager's victim impact statement revealed the "drastic" effect of his actions.

The judge said: "She finds it hard to trust any member of the London Underground staff. She has problems sleeping and distrusts men and it has had a severe impact on her studies and this is all your fault.

"If there had been any previous behaviour of this description, you would be going to prison today for a long time.

"It is only because you have no previous convictions that you are saved from that."