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‘Brighton bottom slapper’ Constantin Barbutu spared jail

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A cyclist who behaved in a “menacing” manner as he slapped and groped women in Brighton has escaped jail because of his “severe intellectual impairment”.

Constantin Barbutu wore a hoodie and rode up behind women who were running or cycling alone late at night.

The 22-year-old dish washer from Romania, described as “cripplingly shy”, then slapped or groped them in what the prosecution at Hove Crown Court described as a “campaign of sexual assault”.

He caused “great fear” and “ongoing anguish”, Judge David Rennie said.

One of his victims said she was “horrified” when Barbutu squeezed her bottom. He did it a second time after circling her and “smirking”.

Another woman said she was “angry, confused and livid”.

A third described his behaviour as “menacing”, adding: “I was alone in a dark, isolated place where no one would hear a scream.”

Constantin Barbutu
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Barbutu has struggled to learn English since arriving in the UK

Barbutu’s attacks began in September 2016, after which he went on to carry out a series of assaults between the end of that year and February 2017 while working in a restaurant and living with his girlfriend in Hove.

Police began to investigate after getting more than 24 reports from women describing what had happened to them.

Barbutu was arrested after being spotted by a security guard targeting two women.

“The defendant appears to have identified sole, individual females and approached them on his bike,” Piers Reed, prosecuting, said.

“He is always on a bike, always wearing a hoodie up. The usual pattern is he strikes them on the bottom and rides off.”

After initially denying 21 charges of sexual assault, Barbutu pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial to crimes against 11 women.

Judge Rennie told him he would have gone “straight to prison” were it not for the fact that “two experts agree that you do have severely impaired intellectual functioning”.

Barbutu was handed a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to complete 40 days of rehabilitation with probation.

The judge added: “What you chose to do to these 11 women who are complete strangers to you – you caused great fear, ongoing anguish.

“They were simply going about their business and they were fully entitled to be left alone.”

The court heard that Barbutu has struggled to learn English since arriving in the UK with his girlfriend three years ago.

Richard Elliott, defending, said Barbutu was “cripplingly shy” and “sorry for what he has done”.

Mr Elliott added: “Punishment will not help him. It will vindicate the public for what he has done but would not assist him in any way.”

The remaining 10 counts against him were left to lie on file.

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