A Tesco worker has been told it was ridiculous he did not realise how distressing it would be to masturbate in front of young women on buses.

Premlal Merenchige Salgado, who last month admitted eight counts of exposing himself on buses in Kingston and elsewhere in London, was handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence at Kingston Crown Court today.

Defending Richard Gowthorpe told the court: "There has been no suggestion of any reoffending or urges since Mr Salgado has been arrested, and it did come as a huge shock to him."

He added: “No one has said to him the full extent of the unsavoury – and the damage of the particular offences, and if they had done then he would have been able to address his behaviour earlier.

“There seems to have been a lack of awareness, not of the illegality, but of the full extent of the behaviour.”

But Judge Judith Coello said: "That is ridiculous. He must realise how distressing and sickening that is. He must be aware of that."

Salgado’s eight-month stretch was suspended for two years, during which time he will be supervised and attend a community sex offenders’ group for 100 days.

He is banned from travelling on buses within the M25 for two years, will remain on the sex offender register for 10 years, and was ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.

The part-time Tesco worker, 51, who is living in Hounslow after separating from his wife, established a pattern in choosing his victims, the court heard.

They were young women between 16 and 26 years old, and were sitting at the back of the lower deck of the buses.

Prosecutor Stephen Apted told the court Salgado masturbated in front of the women, using a rucksack to hide his activity from other passengers.

He was arrested twice, in January and February this year, and gave no comment to police.

Judge Coello condemned Salgado for what she called “deliberate” targeting of young women.

She said: “You carried out these offences using the same method. I conclude that you did plan all of these offences.

“You committed these offences for your own sexual gratification.

“I have no doubt at all that it was very frightening and extremely disturbing for each one of them.”