• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Gym-goer grabbed woman’s bottom after staring at her in Headington gym

Byoxfordnewspaper

Oct 14, 2022

A former leisure centre worker grabbed a woman’s bottom after leering over her at the gym, a court heard.

Haris Malak, 23, followed the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, out of the Gym Group facility in Headington Retail Park, Horspath Driftway, on January 29.

During her workout, he had ‘placed his mat opposite her’ and was waiting by the lockers when she came out the changing rooms – although he had not directly approached her.

Prosecutor Ann Sawyer-Brandish told Oxford Magistrates’ Court that on the woman’s walk home ‘she felt someone touch her back so [she] spun round to see the male who had been staring at her in the gym’.

Continuing to touch her back, the man asked: “Hi, how are you?”

Feeling ‘extremely uncomfortable’, she replied that she was fine then turned and walked away.

He approached her a second time and grabbed her bottom. She shouted, telling him in robust terms to go away.

She knew it was the same man who had made her feel ‘very uncomfortable’ in the gym. “It was a clear night and due to the street lights she had a very clear view of him,” Ms Sawyer-Brandish said.

In her statement, summarised to the court by the prosecuting solicitor, the woman said she felt ‘very upset and shaken up’ by the encounter.

She had subsequently quit that gym in favour of another with a female-only space.

Malak, of St Lukes Road, Oxford, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a single count of sexual assault by touching.

Representing himself at the sentencing hearing on Wednesday afternoon, Malak said he had felt ‘guilty’ since the incident in January.

“I’m really sorry. I never wished to do anything like that,” he added.

He handed up a series of character reference letters written by colleagues and friends. The youngster was not currently working, although had recently been employed at a leisure centre. He hoped to go on to study at university, he told the court.

The magistrates imposed a three year community order with 80 hours of unpaid work, the 35-session sex offender programme, up to 30 rehabilitation sessions with the probation service.

He will be placed on the sex offender register for five years, meaning he must register his address, bank account and passport details with the police within three days of the court hearing. He was ordered by the bench to pay £180 in prosecution costs and victim surcharge.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward