The ‘introvert’ tried to cover himself with a rucksack but was spotted by two teenage girls sat across the aisle from him.

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AN Ilfracombe man described as ‘lonely and introvert’ has appeared in court for masturbating on a bus while sat next to two 16-year-old girls.

Ben Spears, 24, of Trinity Court, Ilfracombe, was caught on CCTV masturbating for eight minutes before one of the girls alerted the driver.

The driver of the Stagecoach bus travelling from Ilfracombe to Barnstaple at around 6.50am on September 22 stopped the vehicle and immediately called the police.

Laurence Overend, defending, said: “Mr Spears had no intention that anyone should see his exposed penis.

“He covered himself up as best he could with a rucksack and when the bus driver told him he had called the police he waited patiently for them.

“He has cooperated fully with police and when being booked in said to the custody sergeant, ‘I’ve messed up, I know that I have messed up and I need help’.”

Spears pleaded guilty to committing the offence while subject to a five-year sexual offences prevention order and community order issued by the court on April 26.

He was issued the order after appearing in court for following a woman as she walked home before opening his coat and exposing himself.

The court also heard he had been cautioned in August last year for watching pornography and masturbating in Ilfracombe library.

Spears appeared before North Devon Magistrates on Friday, after spending three weeks in custody.

Ben Winzer, prosecuting, said: “After these previous offences he is now back before the court committing a similar offence in a manner which is more serious.

“Children on public transport are particularly vulnerable because they are in a confined space.”

Magistrates revoked the previous community order made by the court and issued a new one for 12 months with supervision.

A new sexual offences prevention order was also granted to run for five years.

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