A sex offender from Barking who targeted a 15-year-old girl and a young woman on the London Underground has avoided going to jail.

Lirim Nela, 33, of Pickering Road, was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, and issued a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order at Inner London Crown Court.

He will also be on an electronically monitored curfew between 7pm and 5am for five months and must pay each victim compensation of £500.

Nela had pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual assault at the same court in April but later changed his pleas to guilty.

British Transport Police (BTP) Det Con Ming-Xia Powell said: “Nela’s behaviour was odious and wholly unacceptable - he imposed himself upon two separate victims for his own sexual gratification.

“I would like to personally thank the victims for assisting the investigation. Their help was vital in bringing him to justice.”

On the evening of July 3, 2018, Nela’s first victim was travelling on a Central Line train near Leyton when she felt something shunting into her back.

The victim turned around to discover that Nela was pushing his crotch into her. She confronted him and a member of public intervened.

On October 11 that year, three plain-clothed BTP officers on the platform at Oxford Circus Tube station observed Nela standing back and looking at women around him.

A group of people then arrived on the platform and boarded an eastbound Central Line service.

Nela boarded the same train and was followed by the officers, who saw him pushing his groin into a 15-year-old girl in the group.

He was also seen touching himself inappropriately over his tracksuit bottoms before the officers removed him from the train.

Nela was arrested and taken to police custody, where he was interviewed through an Italian interpreter.

He denied sexually assaulting the girl and claimed the witnessing officers were mistaken.

Nela was further arrested on November 2 that year in connection with the July sexual assault.

Det Con Powell added: “I would urge anyone subjected to, or witness to, unwanted sexual behaviour on the railway to report it to us - no report is too small or insignificant and we will always take you seriously.”

Nela was sentenced on May 28.

To report, text 61016 or call 0800 40 50 40. In an emergency, always dial 999.