A student carried out a string of perverted attacks on three young women and a 14-year-old schoolgirl within six weeks, it has been alleged in court.
John Bate, 24, was alleged to have prowled around Teddington lock late at night following victims before suddenly pouncing on them.
Mr Bate, of Simpson Road, Ham, who appeared at Kingston Crown Court yesterday, denies two counts of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual assault, one count of exposure and one count of assault by beating.
Ian Paton, prosecuting, told the jury on Tuesday, July 31, that they needed to decide whether Mr Bate, a student at Kingston College, was the attacker.
He said: “The attacks varied in nature and effect, perhaps because in some instances of the response of the girl concerned, but in any view they were undoubtedly highly disturbing and distressing.”
He said the 14-year-old was walking along a badly lit towpath by the Thames to her grandmother’s house, in Ham, at about 5.40pm on January 24, when she felt a presence behind her. A man put his hand up her skirt but she broke free and ran home.
The second alleged victim was a 17-year-old student who had left a friend’s house in Ham in the early hours of February 12.
She was walking toward Teddington lock when she heard fast footsteps behind her.
She reached the stairs of the footbridge when a man with a red scarf half covering his face suddenly appeared and pinched her bottom, the court heard.
Mr Paton said: “He then started to interfere with the buttons on her coat and moved his hand towards her left breast.”
The teenager kicked the man in the shin and ran away, the court heard.
Mr Bate was also said to have assaulted another woman in Twickenham Road at about 1am on February 25, after she left her friend’s house in Strawberry Hill.
Mr Paton said: “She screamed as loud as she could and the man put his hand over her mouth. The man had, she thought, black leather gloves on. She pushed him away and managed to break free.”
Mr Bate also allegedly masturbated in front of a 21-year-old student after she crossed a footbridge toward Ham at about 11pm on March 6.
Police arrested Mr Bate on March 17 and he told officers in interview he had been either at home or at work at the time of the attacks.
Three alleged victims took part in an identity parade and were either unable to pick out Mr Bate or chose a different person, the court heard.
The trial continues.