A BUS driver from Saltcoats has been placed on the sex offenders register after making indecent comments to girls as young as 12 while taking pupils to a North Ayrshire secondary school.

Patrick Williams was spared jail and also avoided an unpaid work punishment following the incident.

The 61-year-old had denied three charges, but was found guilty after a trial at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court – having been warned to have no unsupervised contact with children during the proceedings.

He was convicted of conducting himself in a disorderly manner while working as a bus driver on a journey conveying Largs Academy pupils by playing inappropriate Christmas music containing sexually explicit lyrics in Skelmorlie Castle Road and elsewhere on November 15 last year.

A sheriff also found Williams guilty of making indecent sexual remarks to two girls, aged 12 and 13, on January 27 this year, “for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or of humiliating, distressing or alarming” the two pupils.

The High Road resident returned to court last week for sentencing after the preparation of a social work report and risk assessment.

He was placed on a community payback order with 18 months of social work supervision.

He will be on the sex offenders register for the same length of time and will be subject to the requirement to notify police of his circumstances.

Williams had pleaded not guilty to all the charges at a hearing on March 30, when he was made the subject of a bail order barring him from any unsupervised and avoidable contact with children.

A North Ayrshire Council spokesperson said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment as the person in question is not our employee.”