August 2017

Brighton bus driver jailed over sex attacks

A former Brighton bus driver has been jailed for sexually assaulting girls and women while he was working.

Two of Mark Spalding’s victims were girls aged 13 and 14, police said.

Spalding, of Thakeham, West Sussex, admitted eight sex offences at Lewes Crown Court. He was jailed for four years and ordered to serve five years on licence.

Brighton and Hove Buses apologised and said what happened was “utterly vile”.

The company said Spalding resigned during a gross misconduct investigation. The firm then reported him to the police.

Spalding’s other victims were foreign students travelling on buses he drove in 2015, said police.

Det Con Elaine Welsh described him as “a predatory sex offender who took advantage of his access to young women and vulnerable girls”.

She said all the victims, in particular the girls, had shown “immense courage”.

Spalding, of Furze Common Road, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a child under 16, two of causing a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, and two of sexual assault.

July 2017

Bus driver abused teenage girls at work

A bus driver faces jail for sexually abusing schoolgirls as young as 13.

Mark Spalding, 29, has admitted committing sexual assaults on two foreign students and grooming and molesting two Brighton schoolgirls over a period of 19 months.

The offences took place while he was working for Brighton and Hove Buses.

Her Honour Shani Barnes warned Spalding at Lewes Crown Court that he faces prison when sentence is passed next month.

But in the meantime she granted bail after hearing Spalding acts as carer for his mother who has dementia.

A family member of one of Spalding’s victims said: “It broke me when I was told where he touched her.

“I left the room, it was all I could take.

“She was 14.

“I felt like I’d failed to defend my family.”

He called Spalding a “Jekyll and Hyde” character.

He added: “He shows you one side of himself that he wants you to see and you don’t see the other side.

“He’s evil.”

He said he was disappointed by the judge’s decision to bail the paedophile.

“It’s like giving him a month’s grace,” he added.

His wife was equally upset when she heard Spalding would not be taken straight into custody.

She said: “I felt physically sick when I heard that.”

Spalding, 29, of Whitehawk Way, Brighton, committed his crimes while his bus was idling at Brighton bus stops around Devil’s Dyke, Lewes Road and Falmer.

When he was first arrested he maintained his innocence through the much-delayed judicial process.

But last week he decided to change his plea.

The family of one of his victims said they “broke down with relief” when informed their daughter would not have to give evidence.

Spalding’s trial was due to begin at Lewes Crown Court later this month.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child aged between 13 and14 and one count of causing or inciting that child to engage in sexual activity.

He also pleaded guilty to the same three charges concerning a child aged between 14 and 15 and to two sexual assaults on women.

Kris Berlevy, prosecuting, explained a disc of evidence containing 50 pages of Facebook and text messages sent between Spalding and his victims needed to be presented to the court prior to sentencing.

Her Honour Shani Barnes told Spalding: “These are very serious offences which took place over a period of two years.”

She told his barrister his client could expect to receive a custodial sentence.

However in the meantime Spalding remains a free man.

The conditions of his bail forbid him from taking public transport, contacting his victims or their families and having any deliberate contact with anyone under the age of 18