"Predator" jailed after sexually assaulting sleeping woman on Hackney bus

David O'Brien, 51, of no fixed abode.

David O'Brien, 51, of no fixed abode, was jalied for seven years after sexually assaulting a woman on a bus in Hackney. - Credit: Metropolitan Police

A man who sexually assaulted a woman after she fell asleep on a bus has been jailed for seven years. 

David O’Brien, 51, of no fixed abode was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court on April 16 for the offence, which took place in Hackney last spring.

In a victimless prosecution, O’Brien was found guilty of sexual assault by penetration, after the jury were shown CCTV footage of the incident, which happened on board a route 243 bus in Stoke Newington Road, on May 31, 2020.

A "victimless prosecution" is one where no evidence is directly taken from the complainant. 

The woman, in her 20s, had fallen asleep on the bus when she awoke to find O’Brien sexually assaulting her.

Her shocked and distressed reaction prompted O’Brien to flee the vehicle when it stopped at Stoke Newington Road at the junction with Princess May Road.


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Police were called and an investigation launched by officers from the Central East Command.

Through CCTV enquiries, officers were able to identify O’Brien after an officer recognised him from the footage.

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On August 7, 2020, he was arrested in York Way, Islington where he was taken into custody and later charged. 

DC Hema Patel described O'Brien as a "dangerous" and "predatory" individual who targeted an asleep and defenceless victim, adding: "The victim has shown extreme bravery and courage in reporting the incident and helping us to bring O’Brien to justice and therefore preventing him from committing further offences.

“Whilst she did not wish to provide evidence at the trial, the overwhelming CCTV evidence against O’Brien ensured he would be held to account for his serious crimes.”

According to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales ending September 2020, stalking and harassment has increased by 15 per cent in Hackney, from 1669 incidents in 2019 to 1914 in 2020. 

Sexual offences have decreased by three per cent over the same period.

If anyone has information on a crime they can call the police's non-emergency line on 101 or report information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Support for victims of rape and sexual assault is available by clicking here 

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