A MANAGER at former Northwich restaurant Cheshire Bar and Grill has been given a three-year community order for a string of sexual offences against young women.

Daniel De Sousa, 49, of Bracken Way, Barnton, appeared at Warrington Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to 10 counts of sexual harassment relating to three women aged 17, 18 and 20.

One of the counts was what is known as a specimen charge, meaning the one count relates to numerous offences.

Most of the offences, all occurring in November and December 2015, related to groping the women’s bottoms, accompanied by sexually threatening remarks such as ‘you need punishing’.

De Sousa was arrested in December 2015. He denied the charges and claimed his victims were ‘lying’. However, he changed his plea to guilty on the day his trial was set to start in August this year.

Prosecution barrister Sion Ap Mihangel, described the immense impact De Sousa’s harassment had had on one of the victims.

He said: “She has been suffering from anxiety and depression and has been prescribed anti-depressants by her doctor. She hasn’t been sleeping properly. She says she used to go out a lot but doesn’t anymore – she’s afraid to leave the house.”

On hearing from De Sousa’s defence barrister, Nick walker, that he is ashamed and terrified upon appearing in court, Judge Stephen Riordan interjected.

Judge Riordan said: “Terrified I can understand, but ashamed – I’m not convinced. I think you are even now, still in denial about what you did being wrong.”

De Sousa was given a five-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, as well as a three-year community order and a requirement to attend a sex offender’s treatment programme, the length of which will be determined by the programme.

He will also have to sign onto the sex offender’s register for seven years.

Judge Riordan added: “This is not a lenient sentence by any stretch of the imagination. But it avoids the need for an immediate custodial sentence. “An immediate custodial sentence would see him out of prison on license by February. With this sentence he will still be experiencing his punishment until December 2020.

“It may not be sufficient where the victims are concerned, but I think this punishment is more onerous.”

After the sentence, Cheshire Police commended the victims who came forward.

Investigating officer DC Dave Walton said: “De Sousa believed that he was above the law and thought that he could do whatever he wanted.

“He used inappropriate language towards his victims and sexually touched them - despite the fact that they didn’t feel the same way towards him. His actions left them emotionally scarred as a result.

“Thankfully, due to their bravery and courage in coming forward and talking about what happened, De Sousa is now facing the consequences of his actions.

“I hope that the sentence will provide some comfort to the victims and allow them to move forward with their lives.”

Chf Insp Simon Meegan also added words of encouragement to other victims of sexual offences.

He said: “We treat all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously and we want to reassure victims that we are committed to tackling this type of crime and ensuring those responsible are brought to justice.

“The force has a Dedicated Rape Unit that deals specifically with this type of crime − and has specialist officers who are able to provide support to victims and witnesses throughout an investigation. I would encourage anyone who has been a victim or witness of a sexual offence to come forward and report it.

"Anyone looking to report a sexual offence can contact Cheshire Police on 101. Information can also be passed anonymously."