A MAN who exposed himself to shocked customers at a busy fast food restaurant blamed anti-depressants for his behaviour, a court heard.

James Scott pleasured himself in full view of women, children and students who were eating at McDonalds, in Marina Way, Hartlepool, Teesside Crown Court was told.

The "prolonged” incident, on November 7 last year, was captured on CCTV and said to have occurred during the daytime.

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The 34-year-old’s barrister Jamie Adams said the former construction worker may have been suffering from psychiatric troubles and was on a course of anti-depressants at the time which had a “deleterious” effect on him.

He said: “He has now changed his medication and in combination that mix seems to be serving him well.

“His depression has lifted and he is looking for employment again.

“He has a good work record and was doing well in work two years previously.”

Mr Adams said it was an “odd kind” of offence and said Scott had made off from the restaurant without doing anything worse.

He admitted a charge of outraging public decency.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said Scott had been reluctant to accept his full involvement in the offence which he said was understandable because of his deep embarrassment.

He told him: “There were women, teenagers, children, the normal crowd you get in McDonalds and you persisted for a significant period of time.”

The judge said he accepted Scott had been depressed and the impact of the medication he was on and felt it was unlikely he would commit such an offence again.

He said: “This sort of offence is normally committed by the deeply disturbed and the sexually motivated. There is no evidence you are either.”

Recorder Bourne-Arton said he was prepared to accede to a recommendation in a report that Scott be given a community-based sentence.

Scott, of Swan Lodge, High Street, Sunderland, was given a three-year community order with supervision and will attend a treatment programme for those who have committed sexual offences.