A customer who sexually assaulted an Exmouth beautician in her salon has been banned from approaching lone women.

Zenon Wheeler twice went into the premises, ostensibly to ask about the cost of treatments. 

On his third visit he walked into a treatment room uninvited and overpowered the woman, pushing her onto the treatment table, forcing a hand up her skirt and trying to pull down her tights. By chance, she was on the phone to her husband and shouted for him to call the police.

This was enough to get Wheeler to stop and he returned to his supported accommodation where he told a care worker what he had done. He later confessed to police that he had a sexual fascination with women in tights.

The beautician was so shocked that she is now cautious of male customers and feels extreme anxiety when she is alone in her business with them.

Wheeler, aged 46, suffers from a learning disability and mental health issues and has been treated at Langdon Hospital in Dawlish in the past.

He admitted sexual assault and was ordered to do 40 hours of rehabilitation activities and 80 hours of unpaid community work under a three year community order by Judge Anna Richardson at Exeter Crown Court.

She made a three year restraining order banning any contact with the victim and a 15-year sexual harm prevention order which forbids Wheeler from initiating contact with lone women who he does not know. This excludes female medical or social care professionals who may treat or help him in the future.

She said: “The overall picture is that the risk you pose can be managed in the community. You are genuinely remorseful and not considered to be dangerous.”

Miss Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said Wheeler had previous convictions and cautions for similar sexual assaults in 2002 and 2007.

Mr Chris Cuddihee, defending, said a psychiatric report had identified areas which Wheeler can work on to change his behaviour and a new care package has been put in place for him.

He told police that he was ashamed and has also expressed remorse to support workers and the author of the probation pre-sentence report.