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Ben Spears, 24, caught masturbating on a bus in front of teenage girls

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: October 18, 2012

North Devon Magistrates' Court in Barnstaple

North Devon Magistrates' Court in Barnstaple

A "LONELY, isolated and introverted" young man has been made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order after committing a sex act on a bus in front of two 16-year-old girls.

Ben Spears, 24, of Flat 6, Trinity Court, Wilder Road, Ilfracombe, appeared before North Devon Magistrates' Court on Friday after being remanded in prison for the past three weeks.

He faced a charge of outraging common decency as well as a charge for breaching a previous sexual offences prevention order.

Ben Winzer, for the prosecution, told the court how Spears had been on a Stagecoach bus at 7.10am. CCTV footage of the incident shows him committing the offence for eight minutes while sat across from a 16-year-old girl.

Once she was aware of what was happening, the girl told the driver.

He stopped the bus, asked Spears to wait and called the police.

Police then arrested Spears, who admitted upon arrival at the police station: "I messed up, I need help".

Mr Winzer also explained to magistrates this was not the defendant's first offence.

In August 2011 he viewed pornographic videos on a computer in Ilfracombe library before committing another indecent act in front of members of the public.

And in May of this year he was convicted of indecent exposure, after following a woman through Ilfracombe and flashing her when she turned to confront him.

On that occasion Spears said to police: "I have screwed up again haven't I?"

Laurence Overend, for the defence said: "Outraging common decency is perhaps one of the oldest in common law.

"One might normally expect to see a charge of exposure but the difference here is there was no intention from my client for anyone to see.

"He made efforts to cover himself as best he could using a backpack."

Mr Overend accepted the facts of the case spoke for themselves, but said Spears should be given credit for his "openness, frankness, honesty and full co-operation with police".

Presiding magistrate Paul Cooper told Spears: "These allegations are serious and there has been a pattern of offending. You have broken the terms of a sexual offences prevention order, which is important to protect the public and ensure you don't offend again."

The magistrate and his colleagues on the bench felt the existing order would be sufficient to monitor Spears' behaviour and felt the three weeks served on remand was sufficient penalty.

He was also given a new year long community order with a supervision requirement.

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