An East Sussex man working as a tattoo artist who carried out a series of sexual offences against three female colleagues at two tattoo parlours has begun a prison sentence totalling 30 months.

Mark Hylands, 38, of Bramley Road, Polegate, was sentenced at Lewes Crown Court on 1 December, having been convicted of seven offences of sexual assault and three of exposure.

He was found not guilty of three other sexual assaults and of one exposure.

Hylands will be a registered sex offender indefinitely. He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court order, prohibiting him from contacting his victims and from taking any paid work without police agreement.

The court heard that while Hylands was working at the shops, first in Eastbourne and then in Hastings, he would engage in sexualised and offensive behaviour against three women working there, as well as carrying out specific sexual assaults and exposing himself to them. Women customers also complained about his approaches to them.

Eventually he had to leave the Eastbourne shop where he had assaulted two colleagues, but undeterred he found a job at a similar place in Hastings where he began to behave in exactly the same unpleasant way to staff and customers as well as committing specific offences against a female colleague.

In January 2020, after four years, his behaviour was finally reported to the police and an investigation was immediately begun.

Detective Sergeant Chris Milner of Hastings CID said; “This investigation was successfully carried out by our Investigator Lucy Marshall, who tracked down the women from both shops as well as other people who had worked there and were able to give evidence.

“It shows how we will actively take every opportunity to pursue those who prey upon and assault women, and the support we can give victims to help ensure they can provide their evidence and attend court.”

For further information on how to report sexual offences and the support available see the Sussex Police website.