Man who caused ‘widespread terror’ by sexually assaulting women and girls in parks is jailed
A man who sexually assaulted 18 women and girls in Swansea parks has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Oliver Smith rode around a popular Swansea park and nearby street on his bicycle wearing black or dark clothing with a hood pulled over his head causing “widespread terror”, randomly touching women and girls.
Swansea Crown Court heard that he told police “he gets angry about females wearing Lycra”. His 18 victims ranged in age from 12 to 45, and included lone joggers, university students, and mothers playing with their young children.
A judge said he had no doubt the defendant was a dangerous offender, but said he was not able to make him subject to an extended sentence for public protection.
Swansea Crown Court heard most of the attacks took place around Swansea’s Singleton and Brynmill parks, and nearby streets as well as the seafront prom.
Dean Pulling, prosecuting, said over the course of February 12 and 13 this year Smith attacked a series of women. He said Smith approached women from behind and “forcefully” grabbed their buttocks before riding off.
He said some of the victims were students heading for the nearby university, some were lone joggers, some were mothers who had taken their children to the park, and some were women out walking with friends enjoying some exercise in lockdown.
He said: “The offences were committed during lockdown and when the victims were taking permitted exercise or essential business, such as going to work or the shop.
“The fact they were assaulted at that time when there were heightened concerns regarding coronavirus and social distancing only served to increase the stress and fear that they felt at the time
“The attacks that weekend received significant media publicity and these sexual assaults committed in public places, seemingly random attacks against women and girls, brought widespread fear and anger amongst females in Swansea.”
He added: “He told police he gets angry about females wearing Lycra. He claimed he targeted females who had short jackets on and whose bottoms were visible. In his view it wasn’t fair that men had to see that.
“He said he felt bad seeing some of his victims crying and felt that all females dressed to entice men.”
Mr Pulling said one victim, a jogger, was assaulted twice within a short time – Smith first grabbed her bottom as she ran through Brynmill Park, and then again a few minutes later as she ran home through Singleton Park.
The court heard the defendant also sexually assaulted girls – one aged just 12 – in Bishopston on February 13, and tried to attack a 45-year-old woman walking home from the Bishopston Co-op store.
Police launched an investigation into the assaults, and on February 13 put out a press release to the media which included a CCTV image of a man on a bicycle they wanted to trace. A number of members of the public came forward with information, and these leads led police to an address on Sandy Lane in Parkmill on Gower, and to a converted garden shed where the defendant was living.
Mr Pulling said Smith initially denied carrying out the assault but later made admissions. He told officers he though it was “not fair” for women to “dress to entice men”.
He added he masturbated every day, something which he says he found “exhausting”, and that if he touched women he found he no longer needed to do that.
The court heard he also told police he had carried out other sexual assaults.
The court heard the attacks had left the victims feeling anxious, shocked, scared to go out, and “violated”.
Oliver James Smith, of Glandrydan Avenue, Uplands, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to 11 counts of sexual sexual assault by touching – including one on a girl under 13 – and one count of attempted sexual assault. He asked for another seven sexual assaults to be taken into consideration. In total there were 18 victims.
Judge Geraint Walters said Smith had carried out what could only be described as a “campaign” of sexual offending.
“It really has to be described as a campaign of sexual offending, which caused widespread terror at the time to women in and around the Swansea area,” he said.
He said he agreed with a pre-sentence report that Smith was a dangerous offender but the nature of the sentence he was able to impose did not allow him to pass an extended sentence.
Giving the defendant a one-third discount for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced the defendant to three years in prison for each offence, the sentences to all run concurrently making an overall sentence of three years.
Smith will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community. He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.