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Every report builds a picture: Man jailed after a series of reports of inappropriate sexual behaviour on London public transport

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Justin McCarthy

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A man has been sentenced to 21 months imprisonment after a number of reports from members of public led British Transport Police officers to arresting him.

Justin McCarthy, 37, of no fixed abode was reported to police after he was seen to be exposing himself and touching himself inappropriately on the London transport network.

McCarthy appeared before Highbury and Islington Magistrates’ Court on March 28 where he pleaded guilty to:

• Six counts of outraging public decency
• Six counts of breaching a criminal behaviour orders

The incidents took place between 23 February and 25 March at Brent Cross Underground station, Oxford Circus Underground station, Watford Junction station, Morden Underground station, Clapham South Underground station and Waterloo Underground station.

British Transport Police investigating officer PC George James said: “This result is a good example of our stance on those committing any form of unwanted sexual behaviour on the rail network.

“The incidents are all similar whereby McCarthy would board the train and sit near a woman and proceed to touch himself underneath his clothing.
"He would stare at the woman and attempt to gain their attention by tapping their legs with his feet if they attempted to divert their attention.
"Thankfully all the women reported McCarthy’s behaviour to police and he was eventually arrested and charged for the offences.

“We simply will not tolerate such behaviour and take all reports very seriously. I encourage anyone who experiences or witnesses unwanted sexual behaviour on the rail network to report it to stop it as soon as possible to give us the best chance we can have in catching offenders.”
Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Head of Transport Policing, said: “The actions of McCarthy were demeaning, unacceptable and intimidating. We do not tolerate unwanted sexual behaviour on London’s public transport and I commend all those who came forward to report what they saw. Every report matters and it helped police build a picture so they could catch McCarthy and sentence him for his offensive, disgusting crimes. I want everyone to know that London's public transport is safe and sexual offending has no place on our network. Offenders will be identified and will be brought to justice.”

McCarthy was also in breach of a suspended sentence and has served 16 weeks’ imprisonment.

Following the conviction and sentencing of McCarthy at Blackfriars Crown Court on 25 April two people have spoken out about how their reports of McCarthy’s behaviour on public transport helped police to build a picture of the offender and bring him to justice.

James and *Sarah, who witnessed Justin McCarthy touching himself under his clothes and masturbating on busy trains, have urged people to report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, however small the details are.

On 8 August 2016 James intervened and blocked McCarthy’s view of a woman he had been trying to engage in conversation whilst touching himself inappropriately on an eastbound Central Line train.

James, 38, from Ilford said: “I got onto an eastbound Central Line train travelling home after work. I managed to get a seat opposite a woman on a busy carriage with a mix of commuters and tourists. Somewhere between Leyton and Wanstead, something drew my attention to the young man sat next to the woman.

“He was slouched back with his legs spread and I noticed that he had one hand inside the waistband of his jeans and was masturbating. At first I doubted what I was seeing, but then the man leaned over towards the woman and began whispering into her ear. She immediately stared straight ahead looking horrified, I made eye contact and stood up to give her my seat. I then stood between the man and the woman to block his view of her. There were other women and children on the train and I tried to position myself so that I obstructed his view as much as possible.

“I couldn’t believe this was happening and it was a very unpleasant to watch. I then remembered my phone and took it out and took a photo of him, the police later stated this was incredibly useful.

“The man got off at Newbury Park and I decided to follow him to see what direction he walked off in as, by this time, I had decided I would report the incident to the police, which I did so at the nearest Metropolitan Police station. It was easy and didn't take too long, I also forwarded them the photo I'd taken on the train.

“The process after the report was very efficient and I was asked to give a statement to the BTP and pick the man out from a video line. The BTP case officer contacted me throughout the investigation and subsequent court hearing to keep me up to date.

“I'm glad I reported what I'd seen and that the offender was caught. I'd advise anyone to do the same and I now have BTP's 61016 SMS number saved in my phone just in case.”

Within a few days BTP received a similar report from Sarah, 26, from London.

She said: “It was a Wednesday evening rush hour. I had been met by a friend after work at Highbury and Islington station where we got the Overground train to Dalston Kingsland. We were both chatting and were sat next to each other when my friend noticed that a man sitting opposite her had his hands down his pants and was touching himself.

“She pulled her phone out as she felt uncomfortable to tell me whilst the man was touching himself.

“I soon realised what she was trying to say and I looked up to see he was masturbating.

“I felt extremely angry and uncomfortable. Thankfully there were no children on the train at the time, but I thought that this man should not have been subjecting people to this and he should not be allowed to get away with it. I remember thinking that this man, if I didn’t report him, could go on to do more serious things.

“I took a photo of him on my phone and tweeted the Overground line who gave me the British Transport Police 61016 text number, which I thought was really useful as I didn’t feel comfortable reporting the crime on the telephone as the man was sat opposite me.”

Once Sarah and James reported the incident to BTP they gave statements.

Both were asked to take part in an ID parade to identify the offender. This was added to two other reports of similar behaviour on buses received by the Metropolitan Police Service and McCarthy was arrested.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

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