SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Lengthy jail term for touching women in public

A MAN whose “bizarre and sinister behaviour” saw him sexually assault a number of women in public places around Shetland while filming himself on his mobile phone has been sent to prison for 20 months.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie told Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday that Desislav Ivanov, of Grampian Prison, had a “most unusual form of sexual festishism” that saw him take pleasure from touching women surreptitiously in public – sometimes by kissing their buttocks.

He said police found over 7,000 videos of “concern” on two mobiles and a laptop owned by the 25 year old, although only a handful were determined to have been taken in Shetland.

Mackenzie confirmed that the Home Office was aware of Ivanov’s case and suggested he could be deported – something which defence agent Tommy Allan said his client was keen to see happen.

Ivanov, who appeared in court from custody, previously admitted eight offences which took place in Lerwick and in Brae between May and August.

The charges included placing his hands on a number of women’s buttocks – as well as pressing his face against one woman’s buttocks and kissing another female’s buttocks – at various locations in Lerwick and Brae, and sexually touching a girl between 13 and 16.

Mackenzie said the police were first informed of his behaviour after a woman was sexually assaulted on two separate occasions in the Brae Co-op supermarket.

She was touched on the buttocks in the first incident, while the second instance saw Ivanov follow her into the supermarket and drop his hat next to her feet.

He then put his face on her buttocks while filming himself, causing her to scream in shock – which then alerted a staff member and another shopper.

Mackenzie, however, said there was no suggestion Ivanov was following the particular woman and said it appeared to be a coincidence that she was a victim twice.

After the police were informed by a staff member, Ivanov was detained and interviewed by police, but he said “no comment” to most questions.

Two mobile phones and a laptop were taken by police after a search of his accommodation and officers initially found 209 videos of concern, but only three appeared to take place in Shetland.

These clips led to a further three charges being brought forward, with the offences following a similar pattern to the Brae ones.

The police found over 7,000 videos of concern taken over a three-year period on his Ivanov’s devices after spending “considerable time” reviewing the clips.

While the majority of the videos appeared to be taken abroad, they identified a further three offences which appeared to be committed locally, including one in which he placed his hands on the buttocks of a woman on a bus in Lerwick.

Mackenzie said that Ivanov showed “no concern for the distress of his victims” and called it a “disturbing course of conduct”.

Defence agent Tommy Allan admitted that it was “bizarre” behaviour, which was hard for him to say much more about.

He said the contact was usually not for a long time – “sometimes extremely fleeting” – but added that his client would have to accept that people would be distressed by it.

Allan said Ivanov “appears to have some kind of compulsion” and said that he has had psychological attention in the past relating to a drug addiction. 

The solicitor said his client wanted to say in court that he was “really sorry and he would try not to do this again”. 

The defence agent also pointed out to Sheriff Philip Mann that Ivanov had been in custody for the equivalent of a six-month jail term on the matter, which may have already been at the “upper end” of a possible sentence.

Sheriff Mann said the custody would not be suitable for a first offender if the charges were taken in isolation.

But the eight charges together “paints a very disturbing picture of a course of offending” which caused “stress and anxiety”. 

The sheriff said he couldn’t see how a “slap on the wrist” would benefit Ivanov himself, the public or the “poor individuals” who suffered. 

He gave Ivanov a total of 20 months in prison, which was backdated to when he first entered custody in August. 

The sheriff granted a crown motion for forfeiture of the items seized in the police search.

Sheriff Mann also remarked that he was unable to add anything in terms of possible deportation as the relevant authorities were already aware of the case.