OAP guilty of sex act in cathedral toilet

An 85-year-old pensioner who regularly followed young boys into the toilets at St Paul's Cathedral was told by a judge today he could remain free provided he did not spend too long in public lavatories.

Alexander Rossi was arrested after spending months behaving suspiciously in the crypts of the world-famous tourist attraction.

Eventually, the Canon's Verger called police who saw him follow a child into the gents and commit offences involving the teenager and another youngster.

Rossi, of St Barnabas Road, Woodford Green, Essex - who has previous convictions for exposing himself to two young girls 46 years ago and performing a sex act on himself on a train in 1998 - claimed ill health meant he was innocent.

But a jury at London's Southwark Crown Court decided he was guilty as charged and convicted him of two counts of voyeurism and one of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child on November 16 last year.

Passing sentence judge Stephen Robbins told him: "You have previous convictions of a sexual nature but you are now 85 years old and in poor health, so I can temper justice with mercy and implement the recommendation in the pre-sentence report.

"In your case I make a 12-month community order on each count consecutive with a requirement you should not enter any public conveniences save to make use of a private cubicle with the door closed, and from remaining therein save insofar as it is necessary to make such use of the cubicle and the availability of the facilities to wash and dry your hands thereafter.

"This is for the protection of the public from serious sexual harm. In addition, you will be subject to a 12-month supervision order."

The court heard how two plainclothes officers saw Rossi sitting in his favourite spot outside the nearby gift shop with his eyes "fixed on the toilets".

He waited until a boy in his early teens appeared and then followed him inside.

Prosecutor Henrietta Paget said that after looking at the child for a while he switched his attention to a 10-year-old and then committed a sex act in front of him.

Insisting he had done nothing wrong, Rossi told jurors he only went to the crypts because his late wife liked sitting there.

"I would be opposite the male toilets but I wouldn't be staring at anywhere... I was not staring at young boys or knowingly following them into the toilets."

He added that prostate problems meant he not only had to relieve himself frequently but could not have been physically aroused in the way police had described.

But Ms Paget insisted: "We say in spite of his medical condition it is quite clear what he was doing on this occasion."

She added: "Over several months leading up to Rossi's arrest, he had been such a frequent visitor to the Cathedral crypt, he was recognisable to the Canon's Virger and other staff.

"The verger himself had regularly witnessed him following young boys into the toilets... and as you might expect the Cathedral was concerned about this."