AN AUTISTIC man who is subject to a draconian banning order that means he cannot speak to women was spared jail for calling two shop assistants “pretty” and “nice”.

Awais Kazmi, 29, of Broomfield Avenue, Leigh, was banned from approaching lone women in public for a period of five years after a court made a strict sexual harm prevention order on September 14.

He had carried out two indecent assaults on November 25, 2015, and December 16, 2015.

Essex Police later applied for the stringent order which prevented him from approaching lone women in public for a period of five years.

The ban covered any lone female not previously associated with him, including on public transport or in shops, unless it is inadvertent or “not reasonably avoidable in the course of lawful daily life”.

But Southend Magistrates’ Court heard Kazmi breached the order just five days after it was made by walking up to a till worker in Marks and Spencer in Southend High Street.

Philip Pearson, prosecuting, said: “He started a conversation with her, saying she was nice and lovely. He had no intention of making a purchase of any goods. She found his behaviour harassing.”

Kazmi went into Clark’s shoe shop on October 4 and approached another shop assistant.

He followed her around the shop, touching her arm and calling her pretty.

Mr Pearson said: “She felt uncomfortable by his behaviour. He made no attempt to make a purchase on that visit.”

Kazmi admitted both breaches, leaving him at risk of a prison sentence.

However, Roger Neild, mitigating, said Kazmi is autistic and thought to have Asperger’s Syndrome and a learning disability.

He said: “On September 20 he spoke to the female shop worker behind the till, stating she was nice and lovely.

“There was no explicit language. It was perhaps an attempt at a compliment dealt with badly by a gentleman with a disorder on the autism spectrum.

“Yes it’s a breach of a court order but that breach was saying that she was ‘nice and lovely.’”

Mr Neild said the October 4 breach was similar in that he said the woman was “pretty.”

He said: “It was no more than that.”

The solicitor added: “He now has a full understanding of what the order is and he has a full understanding of what he can and can’t do.”

Magistrates’ handed Kazmi a 12 month community order, including 60 hours unpaid work and ordered him to pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

He was also banned from Clark’s and Marks and Spencer in Southend for five years.