A MAN has been fined for committing an outrageous sex act in a public park on a Sunday morning.

Dozens of people were in Queens Park and a regular children's park run had just finished at 9.30am on April 14 when 55-year-old Robert Leach was spotted lying on an embankment masturbating.

Bolton magistrates heard how Michelle and Brian Peart, who were walking their dogs in the park, were "shocked" and called the police.

Leach, of Highfield Road, Farnworth, admitted outraging public decency part way through his trial. He was cleared of indecent exposure.

Giving evidence Mrs Peart said, when she first saw the defendant, he was lying on the grass.

"At first I thought 'It's a bit cold for sunbathing," she said.

But then she saw that his trousers were undone and his hand was on his genitals.

"I was quite startled. It was Sunday morning and there were plenty of children about," added Mrs Peart.

Her husband, Brian Peart told magistrates: "He seemed oblivious to all around him.

"The phrase I used to the police was, 'He was going at it hammer and tongs'.

"I thought he was bang out of order.

"There must have been 100 people in the park. He wasn't even hiding in the bushes."

Police arrived and found Leach, who had taken off his boots, barefoot and digging in flower beds.

They formed the opinion that he was under the influence of drink or drugs.

After he was arrested Leach, who works as a flagger, told officers he had been taking a short cut through the park and was "just chilling".

He denied masturbating, claiming he has erectile dysfunction due to previous abuse of amphetamines.

Steven Teasdale, defending, stressed that the incident was "completely out of character" and Leach cannot remember it.

He added that Leach had been to his son's music concert the previous night, where he had drunk seven gin and tonics, taken seven Ecstasy tablets and 2g of cocaine.

"That had a devastating effect on him and explains why he was completely unaware of what was going on around him," he said.

Mr Teasdale said that Leach has now referred himself for counselling.

Magistrates fined him £524 plus £85 towards prosecution costs and a £52 victim surcharge.

Chairman of the bench, Susan Baines, told Leach: "We must say, straight away, that this is not a typical case.

"We feel it is an incident which is very regrettable and accept the background regarding it."