A MAN who grabbed and sexually assaulted a vulnerable child as she walked to school is behind bars.

“Disturbing” Helder Da Costa Ferreira attempted to touch the 15-year-old while she headed towards Hounsdown School, Totton in a daylight attack.

Screaming “get off me you pervert”, the youngster managed to make an escape from Ferreira, who was also being sentenced for exposing himself on three different occasions to girls as young as 12.

In sentencing him to 18 months imprisonment, Judge Peter Henry told Southampton Crown Court Ferreira was a danger to children who should not serve a sentence within the Totton community.

The court heard that Ferreira’s offending intensified after he was first seen exposing himself to two teenagers as they waited for a bus in February.

Three months later, Ferreira, 30, performed a sex act on himself in front of two other youngsters in separate attacks, including a 12-year-old who was walking through Hanger Farm Park.

On the same day, Ferreira also touched himself while following a girl on a bicycle.


Prosecutor Simon Foster told the court days later Ferreira then sexually assaulted a school girl in uniform.

He said: “The victim had her headphones in as she walked along Marchwood Road. She heard footsteps behind her which suddenly got louder.

“Then she felt Ferreira’s hand go up her skirt and grab at her legs.”

In a victim impact statement, the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said she felt “angry and violated” as a result of the attack.

Lyall Thompson, mitigating, argued that Ferreira should be given the opportunity to have rehabilitation, claiming the defendant “did not know why he did what he did and that it wasn’t for sexual gratification”.

Mr Thompson told the court: “Sexual offences naturally incur high emotions, particularly those involving young people.

“Quite rightly people will be disgusted and revolted by Ferreira’s behaviour, but these offences need to be put into perspective.” He added: “He simply put his hand up her skirt.”

The court heard that the Portuguese national now faces deportation.

However, Judge Henry said that Ferreira’s worrying trend of worsening offending meant custody was his only option: “It’s vitally important that children feel safe being able to walk to school on their own and you destroyed that.”

Ferreira, of Milkwood Court, Totton, pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault, three counts of indecent exposure and one count of outraging public decency.

Ferreira was also banned from working with children and for the next 10 years is not allowed to loiter or enter any school or leisure centre.