Sussex

Brighton bus driver jailed over sex attacks

Mark Spalding Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Brighton and Hove Buses said Spalding was removed from duty within 15 minutes of evidence being received

A former Brighton bus driver has been jailed for sexually assaulting girls and women while he was working.

Two of Mark Spalding's victims were girls aged 13 and 14, police said.

Spalding, of Thakeham, West Sussex, admitted eight sex offences at Lewes Crown Court. He was jailed for four years and ordered to serve five years on licence.

Brighton and Hove Buses apologised and said what happened was "utterly vile".

The company said Spalding resigned during a gross misconduct investigation. The firm then reported him to the police.

Spalding's other victims were foreign students travelling on buses he drove in 2015, said police.

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Det Con Elaine Welsh described him as "a predatory sex offender who took advantage of his access to young women and vulnerable girls".

She said all the victims, in particular the girls, had shown "immense courage".

'Removed in minutes'

Spalding, of Furze Common Road, pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a child under 16, two of causing a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, and two of sexual assault.

The company's managing director Martin Harris said: "Within 15 minutes of us having the evidence we removed him from duty so he was no longer a danger to our customers."

Criminal record checks were carried out on all employees who worked regularly with children and young adults, he said. A safeguarding policy was in place for the organisation.

Mr Harris said there was a special constable who patrolled buses and acted as a link between the bus company and Sussex Police. The vehicles all had CCTV, he said.

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