A man sexually assaulted two women in 'broad daylight' whilst they were shopping at WH Smith in Royal Blackburn Hospital.

On Saturday, April 22, 2023, Sharikh Riaz pretended to browse the shelves at the store inside Royal Blackburn Hospital when the assaults took place.

Preston Crown Court heard one of Riaz's victims was looking to buy food for their lunch when she felt Riaz brush up against her back and 'touch her bum'.

The victim initially thought this was a mistake and she may have bumped into someone.

But CCTV showed Riaz, 25, of Every Street, Nelson, began to follow her around the store and stayed 'very close'.

She initially thought he was trying to steal her mobile phone, but Riaz then made a groaning noise, which his victim thought was out of sexual pleasure, making her feel uncomfortable.

When the victim went to report him to security, she found another woman had also reported him for similar behaviour at the same time.

The second victim was shopping with her family when she reported Riaz also 'touched her bum' and followed her round the shop at least three times.

A member of staff told Riaz to leave and called the police to show them the CCTV footage as evidence.

The footage showed Riaz picking items up in the shop, pretending to intend to make a purchase, touch the women, and then pretend he was taking a phone call when they turned round and noticed him.

A personal statement from one of the victims read: "He has made me feel uncomfortable and angry in a place where I should feel safe."

A personal statement from the other victim read: "After the incident I am aware of anyone standing behind me and makes me feel paranoid.

"I cannot believe that someone would do this."

In mitigation for Riaz, Michael O'Brien said: "He accepts what he did was wrong, that he must not do it again and that he must be punished.

"He comes from a stable home with his family and has support from his brother who is in court.

"This offence will be on his record for life and he knows he must not do it again.

"All I can ask is that he should not be sent into immediate custody due to his lack of previous convictions."

Riaz pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault on a female.

Before passing sentence the defendant, her Honour Judge Heather Lloyd sent Riaz to custody temporarily as she saw him 'yawn' whilst he was being spoken to.

She eventually sentenced Riaz to a two year community order, with 30 rehabilitation days.

Honour Judge Heather Lloyd said: "I know that you live at a home with you family, including your mother, and I wonder how you would feel if one of your relatives was approached by a complete stranger as you did to these two ladies who were shopping at the hospital.

"You did this in broad day light with other shoppers around, and there is an element of planning as you pretended to be shopping.

"I am sorry if you are bored or tired, but I wonder how you would feel if someone touched your mother like this.

"You would be rightly outraged as both of these acts were entirely sexual.

"I am only not sending you to immediate custody due to your guilty plea and lack of previous convictions."