Tuesday, April 1, 2014
A self-styled fortune teller who exposed himself to two schoolgirls on a double decker bus was caught after CCTV images were shown on BBC’s Crimewatch.
Mental health patient Daniel Pratley took the sex drug amyl nitrate as he sat on the back seat of the Exeter to Sidmouth bus next to the two 13-year-olds and then opened his trousers.
He had joined the teens on the top deck of the bus and tried to befriend them by telling them he was a gypsy fortune teller who could read their palms.
Pratley was identified after a shot of his face was shown on Crimewatch and recognised by a medical worker who had treated his schizophrenia in the past, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Pratley, 39, of Okehampton, admitted engaging in sexual activity in the presence of children and was jailed for 12 months, suspended for a year, curfewed for three months, and ordered to pay £350 costs.
Judge Phillip Wassall told him: “This was serious offending. You engaged two girls in conversation. They were plainly children on a bus and you committed a sex act in their presence.
“What saves you from immediate custody are your long standing mental health issues which have led you to be detained in hospital for treatment until shortly before this offence.”
Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said the two girls saw Pratley at Exeter bus station as they were boarding the 52A bus to Sidmouth and thought he was homeless. He got on the bus with them and joined them on the back seat of the upper deck.
Miss Eagles said: “He told them he was a traveller and said he could tell fortunes because he was a gypsy and at one point produced a tube and began to inhale from it.”
She said the tube contained amyl nitrate, also known as poppers, and changed his behaviour. He offered the drug to the girls, leant back on the seat and exposed himself. He tried to get one of the girls to touch him but they did their best to ignore him.
Miss Eagles added: “The girls were scared and one described him as weird. They went home and the police were called. The CCTV footage from the bus was shown on Crimewatch in September and two people recognised him including consultant who treated him the previous Christmas.
“The girls found the incident disturbing. They were very scared and one will no longer travel on the top deck of the bus.”
Terry Holder, defending, said Pratley admitted his guilt straight away and his now working with the mental health service to control his schizophrenia more effectively.