A McDonald’s supervisor ‘grabbed and squished’ the breasts of the young trainee, a court heard.
Shift boss Geary Fernandes sexually assaulted the teenage girl in a freezer at one of the fast food chain’s restaurants in Swindon in December last year.
The 34-year-old, of Warneford Close, Toothill, denied the offence and claimed it was an accident – but was convicted at trial on 10 August.
At Swindon Magistrates’ Court today (Thursday), prosecutor Tom Power said that the girl turned around after she felt hands on her waist.
Now facing Fernandes, “her breasts were grabbed and squished by the defendant”.
He asked the victim to stay and work additional hours, but she refused. When her mother arrived to collect her from work, she disclosed the assault.
Mr Power said that since the incident, the girl has suffered with anxiety at night, is insecure and struggles to stand near boys.
The court heard that the father-of-one – who is assessed as a medium risk of sexual reoffending – is expecting his second child in December, and is also a step-father to two other children.
Emma Hillier, defending, said that her client is unemployed as a result of his conviction – claiming benefits as his pregnant partner works a low-paid part-time job “to get by”.
She encouraged the magistrates to impose a community order or suspended sentence because the “impact [of immediate custody] would be massive”.
Ms Hillier said Fernandes is hoping to get back into work and he is exploring his options with the probation service. She said his operations are limited as a sex offender.
Whilst the defendant maintains his innocence, his lawyer said that he “accepts he was found guilty of this offence” and has “struggled to come to terms with it”.
Ms Hillier said that his partner and the father of his step-children are aware of his crime.
She said that Fernandes has no family or support in this country and his family live in Goa.
Magistrates imposed a 20-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months and must complete 40 rehabilitation activity days. He was told to pay £620 costs and a £154 surcharge.
Fernandes will remain as a registered sex offender for seven years. On 9 October, the same court will consider whether or not to impose a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
In a statement released following his conviction at trial, Wiltshire Police investigator Tina Willison said: “I want to commend the victim for coming forward and speaking to us about this incident, and for then speaking about it in court.
“She has shown remarkable bravery and I’m pleased it has resulted in a guilty verdict for Fernandes today.
“Fernandes clearly took advantage of his position as supervisor of the branch, abusing his position of trust by preying on a new member of staff.
“He waited until they were alone in the freezer section and sexually assaulted her, before lying to defend himself, claiming the contact wasn’t deliberate.
“We will always take reports like these seriously and victims will always be listened to.
“If you have a been a victim of a rape or sexual assault, please get in touch with us on 101. In an emergency, call 999.”
CPS Senior Crown Prosecutor Julie Macey said: “I would like to commend the victim in this case for bravely coming forward to report what must have been a very distressing and traumatic experience.
“Fernandes clearly took advantage of his position as a McDonald’s supervisor and his behaviour towards this young female member of staff was an appalling abuse of trust.
“The CPS takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and will always seek to prosecute offenders when our legal test is met.”
Victims of sexual crimes have the right to lifelong anonymity. It is an imprisonable criminal offence to share any piece of information that could lead to their identification.
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