A MAN who sexually assaulted two women in the water at Bournemouth beach has been jailed.

Kuku Machhal's offending was described as "disgraceful" by a judge who sentenced him to 18 months' imprisonment.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Machhal, aged 31, committed both sexual touching offences on strangers in two separate incidents on the same day in July last year.

Judge David Melville QC said both victims were vulnerable due to the fact that they were in the water.

Machhal's conduct, which took place in front of his group of friends, was "intimidating" and "degrading", the judge said.

Prosecuting, Judith Constable said both victims reported what had happened to them to authorities at the beach.

Seafront security staff located the defendant and prevented him from leaving the area until police arrived and arrested him.

In interview, the defendant accepted touching the first victim but claimed there had been a "strong current which brushed him into her".

"He accepted that much but denied any wrong doing," said Ms Constable.

The prosecutor said Machhal, of Dagmar Road, Southall, denied doing anything wrong with regards to the second incident.

During the attacks the defendant's friends were heard cheering or laughing about what had taken place.

Machhal, who had no previous convictions, initially denied both allegations but changed his plea to guilty at a court hearing in December.

Lesley Manley, representing Machhal, said the defendant was sorry for his actions and he had shown remorse for what he had done. The judge did not accept that the offender was remorseful.

In relation to the offences, Ms Manley said: "On that day, Mr Machhal did not go there with any premeditated intention to do harm but obviously his behaviour was not what one would expect."

She added: "Nothing like this has happened before and it is extremely unlikely, I submit, that this behaviour would ever be repeated."

Machhal came to the UK from the Punjab state of India in 2015 and he has always been in the country illegally, the court heard.

The defendant, whose wife and two children are supported by his sister in India, has lived in Southall for the past six years, being supported with accommodation and manual labour work by somebody who came from the same village as him.

"Currently he is facing deportation," said Ms Manley. "A notice has been served upon him and he is hoping to seek legal advice in relation to his immigration position."

Ms Manley said he still has debts to the people who helped him get documentation to enter the country and he was fearful for his safety should he return to India.

In sentencing the defendant, Judge Melville QC said: "There was a degree of planning and you did of course have your friends with you as well."

He added: "I do no accept that you are remorseful. When interviewed you accepted no personal responsibility at all."

Machhal was placed on the sex offenders register for five years.

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