08 Sep 2020
A man who watched and followed several women around a supermarket before targeting a lone student and touching her has been jailed for six months.
Martin Rhys Roberts, of Trevaughan, left the victim feeling “scared and helpless” after following her for 20 minutes and touching her bottom three times.
The university student tried to walk away from the offender, but was tailed around the aisles at Tesco in Carmarthen.
She eventually text a friend waiting outside and asked him to meet her when she realised 30-year-old Roberts had not touched her accidentally.
Anxious to get outside to her friend, she left the store without reporting the incident – but a security guard informed Dyfed-Powys Police after his suspicions were raised by Roberts’ behaviour.
Detective Sergeant Melanie Havard said: “We first became aware of the incident when a security guard mentioned it to an officer who was at the store on an unrelated matter.
“He told the PC that he’d noticed a man running in, then walking out casually without buying anything, which made him suspicious.
“On watching CCTV footage back, he saw the suspect follow several women in the store, before seemingly selecting the victim and making several attempts to touch her.”
An investigation was launched, involving Carmarthen officers who conducted local patrols, the Technical Support Unit who enhanced CCTV footage to help identify the suspect and victim, and the Economic Crime Team.
Roberts was swiftly identified and arrested on suspicion of sexual assault.
DS Havard said: “Thanks to the work of the Investigating officer, Offender Management Unit and Economic Crime Team, we were able to trace the victim through enquiries linked to the bank card she used in store. When we spoke to her, she gave an account that mirrored the actions captured on CCTV.
“While at the time she did not report the incident, she fully supported our investigation as she had been affected by what had happened.
“With the victim’s statement, CCTV footage and significant comments made by the defendant, we secured a charge of sexual assault against Roberts.”
The offender appeared at Swansea court on September 4, where he was sentenced to 28 weeks in prison.