The parents of a girl who was preyed on by a sick creep who tried to groom her and a friend with drink on a bus have expressed their thanks to thoughtful passengers who stepped in.

William Donahoe, 22, was jailed for 19 months after causing the kids fear and alarm on February 27 this year – having been subject to a Sex Offender order imposed that same month and given a non-custody sentence.

Donahoe, of Southook Row, Girdle Toll, admitted speaking to the two girls before making lewd, indecent, and sexual comments to them as well as ‘sexual sounds’ at Irvine High Street and during the bus journey.

Prosecutors told the court that Donahoe asked the girls if ‘they were virgins’ before telling them they should “do it together”.

Sheriff Alistair Watson heard that the girls ‘took this to mean they should have sex’ with Donahoe, before he then asked them both to meet him at Stevenston railway station and stated that he would buy them alcohol.

The Procurator Fiscal added: “He then went on to offer a bottle of Buckfast on his person – this put the witnesses in a state of fear and alarm.”

The bus then stopped at Ayrshire College, Kilwinning and Donahoe went to speak to the driver – when another male then went and sat with the girls.

On his return, the passenger told Donahoe to ‘shut up’ when he tried to speak to the girls again and the male looked out for them during the rest of the journey. Donahoe then got off at Kilwinning Road, Stevenston before the girls both left at Saltcoats Road, Stevenston.The court heard a female witness on the bus insisted on walking them home before police were then contacted.

One of the girls’ fathers said: “Obviously I’m glad to see him in jail, it’s terrifying to think what could have happened, it’s scary. My daughter was on the bus and she was terrified.

“They were just heading back home – nothing like that has ever happened to her before.

“The guy intervened and then the woman walked them home, but we don’t know who they are, but thank god for them – if it wasn’t for that man and that woman god knows what could have happened, I want to give my thanks to them.

“It’s been bit of a shock. You don’t think these things are going to happen but it just shows how many scary people are out there.

“To be fair she has been okay since, but she is obviously a lot more weary, as are we as well, we’re constantly on her back asking where she is every minute.

“I think we’re worse than her to be honest – you know what kids are like, they just take things in their stride. In the first few weeks she was really really scared but she is a lot better now – and obviously mostly inside.”