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By IH Tuesday 04 December 2012 Updated: 04/12 08:23
THE SO-CALLED ‘Naked Rambler’ Stephen Gough, who has been making his way south since being freed from a prison in Scotland in October, has reached south Warwickshire.
Gough, who has repeatedly been jailed as a result of his insistence on roaming the country naked, was arrested at the weekend in the nude in Bickmarsh, near Bidford-on-Avon.
And after resolutely refusing to put clothes on, he appeared before magistrates at the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington wearing just his socks.
As the magistrates waited for him to be brought from the cells, his solicitor Mark Parry indicated that Gough would be denying the charge on the grounds that his behaviour had not been insulting.
The former Royal Marine, tall and skinny and with a bushy unkempt beard, was then led into the dock with his wrists handcuffed in front of him.
But after the cuffs were removed Gough, 53, stood with his arms by his side as he gave his address as Chamberlain Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire.
He then pleaded not guilty to using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour on December 1 at Bickmarsh in Warwickshire.’
Mr Parry said that previously, represented by a London firm of solicitors, Gough had run arguments under human rights legislation that he should be allowed to walk around naked.
But most of his previous court appearances had been in Scotland, where he was jailed for five months in September but released in October, rather than under English law.
And the charge he is now facing is not an offence which is imprisonable, pointed out Mr Parry.
“His argument is that the Crown say his behaviour in walking around naked is insulting behaviour; and whether or not it is insulting is going to be the issue.”
Pam Meinert, prosecuting, said the matter would have to go off for trial, at which there will be two prosecution witnesses – a member of the public and a police officer.
Told that the facts of the case were agreed and there would not need to be any witnesses called, the magistrates’ legal advisor suggested there would at least need to be evidence from the member of the public on whether she felt insulted or distressed by Gough’s behaviour.
The magistrates adjourned the case for trial, which will not take place until February, and at first granted Gough unconditional bail.
They then decided that although he was to be freed from the cells, it was not necessary to put him on bail – but he was warned the trial could go ahead in his absence if he failed to attend.
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