Man given 14-day jail term for urinating near PC Keith Palmer plaque

  • london
  • June 15, 2020
  • Comments Off on Man given 14-day jail term for urinating near PC Keith Palmer plaque
Man given 14-day jail term for urinating near PC Keith Palmer plaque thumbnail

A 28-year-old man has been sentenced to 14 days in prison for outraging public decency after urinating beside the memorial to a murdered police officer outside parliament.

Andrew Banks, of Stansted, Essex, was photographed on Saturday morning relieving himself next to a plaque erected in memory of PC Keith Palmer during demonstrations in Parliament Square by football supporters and rightwing activists who claimed they were defending statues from Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

A court artist’s sketch of Andrew Banks at Westminster magistrates court. Photograph: Elizabeth Cook/PA

He handed himself in to police on Sunday and apologised for his behaviour. Westminster magistrates court was told he was not aware of the memorial’s presence or its significance. He said he had drunk 16 pints over Friday night.

Sentencing him, the chief magistrate for England and Wales, Emma Arbuthnot, said: “You explained that you were with a group of football supporters who came up to Westminster to protect monuments. The irony is that rather than protecting the monuments, you very nearly ended up urinating on one.

“The harm caused is the upset and shock felt by members of the public who saw the images that generated a strong sense of revulsion.”

Arbuthnot said a community sentence would not be commensurate with the harm caused. She sentenced Banks to 14 days in prison, of which he will serve half if he exhibits good behaviour. She also fined him £128 and ordered him to pay £85 in costs.

Banks pleaded guilty to outraging public decency. Michael Mallon, prosecuting, said Banks was not spotted by police during the demonstration when he slipped through a barrier and urinated on the perimeter wall of parliament beside the plaque at 10.59am on Saturday morning.

Mallon said: “Someone took a picture and that picture circulated on social media. The MP Tobias Ellwood [who attempted to save Palmer’s life] also tweeted it, saying this was abhorrent.”

After returning home, Banks was confronted by his father. Banks admitted he was the man in the picture and said he did not know what the memorial was for until his father explained it. The family then called the police.

The court was told that in terms of sentencing precedents, the only comparable recent case involved a woman called Kelly Martin who was jailed for seven months for deliberately urinating on a public war memorial in 2016.

Stuart Harris, representing Banks, who has no previous convictions, said his client “apologised for what has rightly been described as abhorrent behaviour”.

Harris added: “He has never been in trouble before. He says he has been battling with alcohol after a 10-year relationship came to an end. He was suffering from mental health issues.”

Palmer, 48, was killed while on duty during a terrorist attack near parliament in March 2017.

In a separate case at the same court, a 35-year-old man from Sunderland who kicked a police officer in the back during Saturday’s protests has pleaded guilty to violent disorder. Daniel Allan, an electrician, had travelled to London at the weekend.

Jennifer Gatland, prosecuting, said: “As a small group of police officers were walking though Bridge Street, they were abused and had missiles thrown at them. Mr Allan suddenly kicked out at Police Sergeant Richard Lambert.

“[Allan] kicked [Lambert] in the back with his right foot, causing him to fall to the ground. This prompted the rest of [the demonstrators] to attack the officers.”

Lambert picked himself up but was kicked again. His fellow officers circled to protect him. Allan escaped into the crowd but his picture was circulated. Because he was still wearing the “same luminous shorts”, he was easily identified and “captured” later on Saturday.

In a statement read out to court, Lambert said he was in significant pain in his lower back.

Eleanor Fraser, representing Allan, told the court that he felt the kick was in retaliation for having been struck by a police officer’s baton earlier in the day. She added: “He accepts that his actions were not lawful. His last conviction for violence was in 2010.”

Judge Nicholas Rimmer, denying Allan bail, told him his actions were likely to result in a prison sentence of several years. He was remanded in custody to appear at Southwark crown court for sentencing “at the earliest convenience”.

In another case, James Meikle, a South African backpacker living in Devon, was remanded in custody at Westminster magistrates court. He spent what he thought were his last few hours in the UK marching with anti-racism demonstrations before intending to catch a flight back to his homeland later that day.

However, he was arrested after charging at police officers who had formed a line in Soho in a bid to keep opposing protesters apart. The court heard Meikle had put down his backpack and ran at the line from a distance of 50 yards, colliding with two police constables, before walking off, laughing.

Following his arrest, he admitted that he had been drunk, saying: “I just wanted to see if I could get through the line. I didn’t know what I was being nicked for.” He later acknowledged it was wrong and said he wanted to apologise to the officers.

Meikle admitted two counts of assault by beating of an emergency worker, via video link from Charing Cross police station, but had to have the legal definition of “beating” explained to him.

Jennifer Gatland, prosecuting, said that neither officer had been injured, but added: “This was clearly a deliberate act. It took place in a situation where there was a risk of further and greater public disorder.”

Lynne Gothard, representing Meikle, said: “This is an issue he cares deeply about and he wanted to show his support for the Black Lives Matter movement.”