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Rough sleeper exposed self in bid for accommodation

Rough sleeper exposed self in bid for accommodation

Thursday 08 November 2018

Rough sleeper exposed self in bid for accommodation

A homeless man has been sentenced in the Magistrate's Court after getting “completely naked” in the A&E waiting room while trying to find somewhere to stay.

Paul Michael Gardner (54) appeared in the courtroom yesterday to answer a charge of indecent exposure after taking all his clothes off in the hospital waiting room on 23 October in front of staff and members of the public.

The Court heard that Gardner had been facing sleeping rough at the time. He had been medically assessed and the Doctor at A&E had “no medical concerns” about the 54-year-old, but he was subsequently arrested when he stripped off in the waiting room.

Gardner’s lawyer, Defence Advocate Luke Sette, told the Court that his client had been “told he didn’t have access to the Shelter” and therefore was seeking accommodation at the hospital before he got arrested. 

Advocate Sette also explained that he had liaised with the charity, who said they would be able to accommodate his client.

It was not the first time Gardner had appeared in Court. Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris, presiding, addressed Gardner: “Yet again there’s a whole gaggle of people running around trying to look after you… [They’re] all using their valuable time for you.”

Magistrate's court

Pictured: It was not Gardner's first appearance in the Magistrate's Court.

To this, Gardner replied: “I’m grateful for any assistance they do offer.” 

The Assistant Magistrate noted a previous incident where Gardner had smeared excrement across the Shelter Trust’s walls to explain why he didn’t have access to the charity on this occasion, saying, “There’s absolutely no excuse for that kind of behaviour."

While the Assistant Magistrate acknowledged Gardner’s complicated background, he warned him that, should something of that nature happen again, he could find himself “out on the street again." 

For the indecent exposure charge, Assistant Magistrate Harris sentenced Gardner to three weeks in prison, which was the equivalent of the time he had already served waiting for his Court appearance.

It was heard that someone from the Shelter was coming to Court to escort Gardner to the accommodation. The Assistant Magistrate commented: “He’s taken time out from his work just to babysit you… Please don’t let him down.”

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Posted by John Smith on
If this reporting is correct, could the Assistant Magistrate have been any more patronising to this clearly troubled man? As always, if people are too tricky to help - we criminalise them. It's the easy option.
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