Swimming pool flasher sent to mental hospital

The incident continued at a Topsham play area

The incident continued at Topsham play area - Credit: Google

A flasher who exposed himself to parents and children in a play park has been sent to a mental hospital.

Nicholas Courtenay was suffering from a combination of mental illnesses including a drug induced personality disorder when he carried out a series of sex offences over two days in June 2021.

He was released by police after being arrested for exposure but went straight out and sexually assaulted two women. 

He was detained for a second time and has remained in custody ever since. 

He will now be moved from Exeter Prison to the privately run St Andrews Hospital after a judge at Exeter Crown Court made a hospital order.

Courtenay, 42, of no fixed address, Exeter, was accused of two counts of exposure, two of sexual assault, two of criminal damage, two of common assault, and one of assaulting an emergency worker.

He was ruled to be unfit to plead but a jury found that he had committed the acts as alleged at a short trial in January this year. 

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Judge David Evans told him that the hospital order is not a punishment but is for his own good and for that of the public.

At the two-day trial, Kelly Scrivener, prosecuting, said a group of children and adults were queueing to get into Topsham Swimming Pool at noon on June 4 last year when Courtenay walked past them and into the pool.

The first adult to follow him into the male changing room saw him exposing himself and urinating on the floor, even though there was a urinal just five feet away.

He turned away to prevent a child seeing Courtenay, who pulled up his trousers and fled into the pool when challenged by a second adult.

He waded fully clothed towards a group of mothers and children and a lifeguard was so alarmed that he jumped into the pool to stop him and throw him out.

Courtenay was seen discarding his wet clothes as he walked down a path leading to a small play area next to the back tennis court in Topsham, where there were parents and children.

He pushed an empty swing as the parents ushered away their children and the police found him still naked in a nearby garage. He spat at their police car as he was being taken into custody.

He was released and returned to Topsham at around 5.30pm on June 6, sexually assaulting a woman in Countess Wear on the way. 

He then moved on to the University sports field where he terrified a 17-year-old girl by jumping out of the bushes at her and threatening her with a scooter which her younger brother had been riding.

Courtenay sexually assaulted a young mother at the same location shortly afterwards before he attacked a passer-by outside Plants Galore by slapping his arm.

He kicked out at one of the police who had been called to the earlier incidents and who arrested him in Topsham Road.

Courtenay has a history of bizarre offending and in 2014 he stripped off and climbed onto the altar at Exeter Cathedral before assaulting a pensioner on his way out.

Mr Peter Coombe, defending, said two consultant psychiatrists had recommended the hospital order.