May 2022

Perverted Sunderland pensioner avoids jail after performing indecent act on train

A perverted pensioner has avoided jail after performing an indecent act while looking at a sleeping passenger on a train.

David Gilbert was travelling on the East Coast Main Line, between Newcastle and Edinburgh, when his dirty deed was spotted by a fellow traveller. 

A court heard that 76-year-old’s hand was moving under a newspaper on his lap as he looked at a sleeping female passenger in a nearby seat.

He was arrested when the LNER service arrived at Newcastle Central Station after officers noticed his jean’s were undone and he was was exposed.

Gilbert, of Westheath Avenue, in Sunderland, appeared Newcastle Magistrates’ Court earlier this month to plead guilty to outraging public decency and the case was adjourned for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

The pervert, who has past convictions from 2014, 2015 and 2016 for similar offending with newspapers on trains, was back in the dock on Tuesday to learn his fate.

Giving him a three-year community order, Deputy District Judge Andrew Teate said Gilbert admitted getting a “thrill” out of performing sex acts in public and those urges “prevented rational thinking in his behaviour”.

The judge added: “I’m told you’re motivated to change. I’m told you have previous convictions from 2014, 2015 and 2016 for similar matters.

“However, you have not been before the court since 2016 and it does appear that, when you have been given disposals in the community, they have had the impact that had been required and you have been able to control the urges you have talked about having.

In my mind, the custodial threshold has been passed but it would only be a short sentence and I don’t think that would have the desired effect on you.

Deputy District Judge Teate said he was giving Gilbert a community order rather than a suspended sentence as it would give him the opportunity to complete a sex offenders’ treatment programme.

The court heard that Gilbert was travelling on an LNER service between Edinburgh and Newcastle at around 9pm on December 4 last year when he was spotted by a fellow traveller staring at a sleeping 20-year-old student. Stephen Davies, prosecuting, said: “The witness saw the defendant’s reflection in the window and saw him sitting behind her leaning towards the aisle.

“There was a newspaper on his lap and she could see the defendant appeared to be masterbating under the newspaper. While she couldn’t see his penis, she could see that his trousers were open. The female sitting opposite, who the defendant had been looking at, awoke and the defendant stopped masterbating.”

The court heard that, when the student fell back asleep, Gilbert continued to perform a sex act until he was confronted by the witness’s partner, who told him to “put everything away” and removed the newspaper. The couple contacted a friend of theirs, who was sitting in another carriage and happened to be an off-duty police officer, and they contacted train staff.

Officers were waiting for Gilbert when the train arrived at Newcastle Central Station and he was arrested with his trousers still open and his genitals exposed.

In a statement, the student said she now took “overly cautious measures” to protect herself and had concerns about travelling alone. She added: “You would think a quiet, old man reading a newspaper on a train would be benign and trustworthy figure, which was not the case on this occasion. I’m grateful to the members of public who intervened.”

As well as the community order, Gilbert was made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.

The order banned him from sitting opposite, beside or diagonally across from any lone female travelling on public transport and from having a bag or any other item on his lap while travelling on public transport.

He was also ordered to pay £100 compensation, £85 costs and a £95 victim surcharge.