A SOUTHAMPTON hospital cleaner who embarked on a “campaign of sexual assaults” against women both at work and on city buses has been jailed for four years.

Basilio Vaz pleaded guilty to 11 counts of sexual assault within just a two-month period, targeting women at Southampton General Hospital where he worked, and strangers on buses, including teenagers.

Southampton Crown Court heard how his victims were left feeling frightened, scared and some in need of counselling after the 43-year-old groped and stroked them without warning.

The court also heard how Vaz had admitted to touching women since he was 16 years old, including children as young as 13.

Judge Peter Henry said there were many “troubling aspects” to his persistent campaign of sexual assaults, which continued even after his release on bail, and branded Vaz a serious risk.

Prosecutor Eleanor Fargin told the court that Vaz first struck in February this year when he touched the thigh of a 17-year-old student who was waiting alone at a bus stop.

On February 27 he assaulted a 33-year-old woman, who was on an almost empty bus, sitting close to her before stroking her thigh, leaving her feeling “dirty”.

Just 24 hours later he struck again on another bus, moving his hands to the inside of a 16-year-old’s thigh, trying again when she pushed him away.

The next two assaults happened on his first day at work as a cleaner for Medirest at Southampton General Hospital in March, first touching the bottom of a fellow cleaner who was helping him and then brushing the thigh and bottom of another cleaner having followed her into a cupboard.

Just three days later he touched the thigh of one nurse and the bottom of another while in lifts with them, before rubbing the back of another hospital employee as she showed him to the cleaning cupboard on a ward.

He also rubbed the groin area of a hospital assistant, who he followed into a cupboard, but when she pushed past to get away he followed her and did it again.

He was arrested and bailed that same day for several of the assaults but just three days after appearing at court he targeted two 17-year-olds.

The first was on a bus when he sat next to her and rubbed up and down her leg, before assaulting another, who was at a bus stop, by rubbing her leg and touching her bottom at least twice, leaving her in tears.

In mitigation, Andy Houston told the court that Vaz, who had arrived in the UK last June from Goa, was sexually inexperienced and had touched his victims over their clothing.

Judge Peter Henry said: “This is a campaign of sexual assaults. You targeted females in circumstances in which they found themselves vulnerable and you have taken advantage of them.”

Vaz was sentenced to four years for one count and 16 months for the other ten, to run concurrently. He was also placed on the sex offenders’ register and will be on licence for four years on release.

A spokesman for University Hospital South-ampton said that Vaz was immediately apprehended by security when the first report was made and was held until police arrived.

They added: “We would remind staff they should report any instances of inappropriate behaviour to the security team as a matter of urgency to ensure appropriate action can be taken at the earliest possible opportunity.”