A MAN pleasured himself on a bus journey between Chester and Ellesmere Port while “staring intensely” at an 18-year-old girl, a court heard.

Raymond Lee Cowap, 38, pleaded guilty to committing an act outraging public decency and was sentenced to a three-year community order this morning (Thursday, September 13).

Chester Magistrates Court heard that he had moved seats on the Number 2 Stagecoach bus to sit opposite the teenager at around 12.30pm on June 14 this year.

“Her attention was drawn to Mr Cowap when he moved one space back and was sitting directly opposite her,” said prosecutor Leanne Kennedy.

“She looked around again and saw that Mr Cowap was intensely staring at her and began masturbating under his jogging bottoms.

“He stopped briefly while someone got on and off the bus and then continued to stare at her and masturbate. This went on for the whole bus journey.”

Miss Kennedy told the court that Cowap was holding his phone in one hand and the victim thought he was photographing or filming her.

However, when police arrested him they checked his phone and found no images or videos of the young woman.

“Mr Cowap stated that he couldn’t remember what happened and that he doesn’t usually go to Ellesmere Port on this bus route,” Miss Kennedy said. “He said he couldn’t remember the female.”

In a statement made to the police, the complainant said she had been left suffering with panic attacks, especially when she saw people who looked like Cowap.

“This incident has really affected me,” the 18-year-old said. “At the time I felt scared and thought the male might follow me or talk to me.

“I felt like I couldn’t move when I first realised what was happening. I’ve started having panic attacks.”

David Kirwan, defending, stressed that his client had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and generally had difficulty remembering things.

He said this was a common issue among people with autistic conditions.

The defendant had a large support network and was willing to work with agencies to ensure he stops committing offences of this nature.

The court heard Cowap, of Watergate Street, Chester, has two previous convictions for exposure and outraging public decency in May 2016 and November 2014.

The problems with his memory mean he cooperates with agencies for a period of time but then has a relapse, Mr Kirwan said.

Magistrates opted against a prison sentence and ordered that Cowap undertakes a rehabilitation activity of up to 60 days as part of his community order.

He was also fined £85 and must pay the victim £250 in compensation.

Cowap, who receives a disability living allowance, is already the subject of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) but magistrates added an extra condition that he must not masturbate in any public place.