A man who sexually assaulted two woman on a train and fled from officers at Lancaster train station causing huge delays and costing a rail company thousands of pounds has been jailed.
Preston Crown Court heard how Mohammed Benfedda, 30, of no fixed abode, on April 21 this year, cornered his first victim on a Virgin train between Carlisle and Lancaster as she went to use the toilet, touching her hip while speaking to her inappropriately.
On the same train, Benfedda also approached another girl, removing one of her earphones and moving her bag from the seat so he could sit next to her.
When she told him she did not want to speak to him he placed his hand on her thigh and squeezed her leg. She tried to move away but he blocked her exit.
When she did manage to escape Benfedda claimed he would ‘get her when she got off the train’.
The victim alerted a cleaner who informed the train manager.
She alerted British Transport Police who met the train at Lancaster station.
When Benfedda was identified to officers he made a run for it, trespassing on the railway causing three trains to be cancelled, 49 train delays and 439 minutes of delays at a cost of more than £8,000 to Network Rail.
Benfedda was later identified by a Cumbria Police officer and detained.
He was then arrested, interviewed and charged by BTP officers.
Benfedda was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, 21 October, after pleading guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of obstructing the railway following a British Transport Police investigation.
Investigating officer PC Justin Casson said: “This was an unnerving situation for both of Benfedda’s victims who were left scared and intimidated by his actions.
“The sentence handed down reflects the severity of his actions.
“Any unwanted sexual behaviour on trains or at stations is completely unacceptable and BTP will use every method at our disposal to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”
“We encourage all victims of sexual harassment on the transport network to report it to stop it. All reports to the police will be taken seriously and the information given can help catch offenders.”