A PEEPING Tom with a “messy afro hairstyle” was arrested after his 16-year-old victim saw him in Accrington town centre shortly after the incident in the Tesco toilets.

Blackburn magistrates heard Haben Mihretab went down on his knees begging the girl and her boyfriend not to report him to the police after they confronted him and took a photograph.

And the court was told the 22-year-old had two previous convictions for voyeurism, both of which led to prison sentences, and he was under police investigation for an allegation of raping a 17-year-old girl.

Mihretab, 22, of Highfield House probation hostel, Lydia Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to observing a person doing a private act for the purpose of sexual gratification.

The magistrates ruled their powers of punishment were not sufficient and sent Mihretab in custody to Burnley Crown Court to be sentenced on July 5.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said the girl had gone into the Tesco toilets at 2pm on Saturday.

She was sat on the loo when she saw a “black, messy, afro hair style” above the cubicle partition. The girl shouted out and shortly after heard the door of the next cubicle open.

“She went out and told her boyfriend, who was waiting outside, what had happened and he said he had seen the man with the same hairstyle leaving the area,” said Mrs Yates.

“They reported the matter to the manager and then left the store and walked into the town centre. Her boyfriend saw the man with the curly hair and confronted him.”

The man claimed he had simply gone into the wrong toilet but when the couple walked off he followed begging them not to report the incident to the police.

“At one stage he got down on his knees, got hold of the boyfriend’s legs and begged him not to tell anyone,” said Mrs Yates.

The court heard that in 2017 was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison for three offences of voyeurism committed in toilets on Wigan railway station and in a Wigan town centre pub. In 2018 he was sentenced to 12 weeks for an offence of voyeurism in the female toilets at Tenpin Blackburn bowling alley.

Mrs Yates said police examination of CCTV footage showed Mihretab had been in the ladies toilets at Tesco for 37 minutes.

The probation officer responsible for Mihretab’s supervision said he had been assessed as a very high risk of serious harm to the public, mainly women but children as well.

Peter King, defending, said there was no suggestion his client had viewed anyone else inappropriately during the time he was in the toilets.

“There is also no suggestion he used his phone, which is being examined by the police, to take photographs of any individual,” said Mr King.

“He accepts there was an element of sexual gratification from his behaviour and the repeat nature of the offences indicates he has a problem.”