November 2016

Sex offender attacked rail & bus passengers through gap in the seats

A MAN who sexually assaulted women and girls on buses and trains has been jailed for two years.

William Strickson, 22, from Middleton near Pickering, sat behind his victims then reached between the seats to assault them, York Crown Court heard.

Strickson, who is a former tourist information worker and post-room worker in a York solicitor’s office, was arrested after being identified on CCTV.

He admitted three sexual assaults.

Prosecutor Alisdair Campbell said the first victim was assaulted on June 29 on a bus from York. The teenager was upstairs when Strickson, who regularly took the service to and from work, sat behind her.

She recognised him as a regular passenger, who she felt “often acted oddly,” said Mr Campbell. Strickson put his hand between the seats and reached for her. When she looked around, he pulled his hand away quickly.

The girl told police. Strickson admitted what he had done but blamed his Asperger’s Syndrome. Mr Campbell said his client found it hard to talk to women but admitted getting sexual gratification from what he was doing.

Strickson was bailed, but weeks later sexually assaulted an under-age girl on a train between York and Malton, in the same way. She “couldn’t believe what was happening” and was now too scared to travel alone, the court heard.

Strickson was picked out in an ID parade following the incident on August 10. He was re-arrested and bailed again, but on September 15 he assaulted a woman in her 20s in the same way on a Malton to York train. He was arrested at York Railway Station the following morning.

The court heard that he had a previous conviction for a “strikingly similar” matter in 2013, on a bus in Scarborough.

His lawyer David Camidge said the offences stemmed from Strickson’s Asperger’s and learning difficulties, exacerbated by work problems.

“He was working in the tourist-information service (in Pickering), but this employment came to an end when that centre closed,” added Mr Camidge.

Strickson found new work at a solicitor’s office in York but this also came to an end because he didn’t like answering the phones, added Mr Camidge.

Judge Paul Batty QC said the targeting of lone children on public transport was “utterly intolerable” and he was “not at all persuaded that (the offences) are connected to any particular learning difficulties”.

Strickson was put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.