Erith man jailed over sex attack on coach driver in station toilets
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 October 2018
A Transport for London worker from Bexley who sexually assaulted a female coach driver after luring her into the basement toilets at Victoria Coach Station has been jailed for 12 months.
Damian Fichardo, 43, pinned the woman against the sinks in the ladies’ toilets and groped and kissed her and tried to force his hands into her underwear during the attack on September 24 last year.
She struggled with him for seven minutes and he told her he was “the Devil’s child” before he let her go free, Southwark Crown Court heard.
The victim had met Fichardo, a customer service assistant, 10 or 12 times before - just from driving the route into London, and they would say hello but were not on first name terms.
On the day of the assault, she had greeted him with a peck on the cheek and told him she was going to have a cup of coffee for an hour to pass the time before her next journey was due to start.
When he said “follow me” and led her down underneath the station, she believed he was taking her to some kind of staff room or staff canteen.
She became increasingly concerned when Fichardo pretended he was showing her the way to the toilets when they passed one of his colleagues.
The victim decided to duck into the toilets to try and call someone for help, but Fichardo followed her in a few moments later and forced himself upon her.
During the ordeal, he told her he wanted to have sex with her and started to grind his crotch against her.
She tried to get him off her by offering to give him a hug and asking his name - he replied by telling her “Damian. Devil’s child” and tried to force himself upon her once more.
Fichardo, from Erith, denied sexual assault but was convicted after trial last month.
The court heard that the victim had a pre-existing anxiety disorder, and that since the incident she has increasingly suffered panic attacks and has had to give up work because she no longer feels safe driving her coach alone.
In a victim impact statement, she said she was seeking specialist counselling, adding: “I’ve got nothing - I’ve pushed all my friends away because I feel so uncomfortable in their presence.”
Following the jury’s guilty verdict last month, Fichardo screamed that the complainant had ruined his life and that of his wife and two children.
Paul Edwards, for the defendant, said he regretted the outburst, but was fearful for his family’s welfare if he was sent to prison.
Mr Edwards said: “This incident was a moment of madness. Utter madness. I can’t overstate that.
“He’s risked his livelihood, his liberty and his family’s future.”
Jailing Fichardo for 12 months, Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: “The consequences of this assault on the victim have been terrible - even before the incident she was a pretty vulnerable woman.”
He continued: “The effect it had on her was all too obvious to anyone who had the misfortune to witness her evidence.
“She continues to suffer panic attacks and is overwhelmed by anxiety.”
He added: “Your life, that of your wife and children may well have been seriously affected as a result of this incident and your conviction, but the victim is not responsible for that, you are.”