Bottom pincher admits assaults

Defendant claims it was a form of “courtship interaction.”

A Seaton man has admitted sexually assaulting five women and a 14-year-old girl in the resort in what was described as a “couple of weeks of very strange and upsetting behaviour” .

Matthew Benjamin Hampton, 29, of The Avenue, pleaded guilty to the offences where he went around the resort touching women’s bottoms between June 4 and 19.

He appeared in custody at Central Devon Magistrates’ Court last Thursday.

Karen Ball, prosecuting, said the incidents were “relatively similar” and happened when the victims were in a shop, except for one of the offences which occurred outside a hairdressing salon.

The court heard on June 5 he touched a 14 year-old victim when he went into a shop to look at cameras where he touched the girl on the bottom and breast.

There were further incidents where he touched women in a gift shop and charity shop.

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Miss Ball said, on one occasion, the defendant went into a hairdressers and, as one of the complainants cut his hair, he kept touching her legs and crotch area.

The court heard that one woman was “too scared to look directly at him (Hampton)” when he “tickled” the woman’s bottom in a gift shop.

Hampton was confronted during one of the incidents by a woman in the Co-operative store, whom he touched on the bottom and near the crotch area, but was said to have just looked at her.

During his initial police interview Hampton made no comment but later accepted he did touch the woman but said it was a form of “courtship interaction”.

Warren Robinson for the defence said: “The way this young man has gone about the whole process reflects that something is wrong. He has not got a history of coming in front of the police or courts - no sexual offences on record.”

Mr Robinson said: “It was a couple of weeks of very strange and upsetting behaviour.”

The court heard that the 29-year-old had just completed a Masters degree at King’s College and was being urged by his partner to continue his studies.

Mr Robinson said that the defendant wanted to make it clear he had “effectively been buying time”.

The matter has been adjourned until August 16 for a pre-sentence report to be prepared and Hampton was remanded on conditional bail.

He was ordered not to enter retail premises in Seaton or have any contact with the complainants and will be subject to an electronic tag curfew from 7pm to 7am.