'Naked Rambler' Stephen Gough jailed again

 

The man known as the Naked Rambler was jailed for five months for a breach of the peace today after he told a court he would not co-operate with social workers tasked with assessing his mental health.

Stephen Gough, 53, who has spent much of the past six years in prison for similar offences, was convicted of the charge last month after walking unclothed near a children's play park in Dunfermline, Fife, on July 20.

The incident took place three days after Gough, a well-known campaigner for his right to appear nude in public, was released from prison in Perth.

The former Marine, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, was sentenced at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, where he appeared naked in the dock and represented himself.

Sheriff James Williamson had expressed his concern at a previous hearing about the accused's demeanour and ordered social workers to produce a report assessing Gough's emotional and mental health.

But the sheriff today told the rambler he had "no alternative" but to impose another custodial sentence after Gough refused to meet the officials and indicated he has no intention of doing so in the future.

Gough denied conducting himself in a disorderly manner and committing a breach of the peace by walking naked in Dunfermline's Cairncubie Road, in the Townhill area, arguing there is nothing about him that was indecent, alarming or offensive.

But he was convicted of the charge after a two-hour trial, in which he again appeared naked in the dock.

He appeared tearful at points during the earlier hearing, behaviour which in part led the sheriff to call for the mental health assessment.

He warned the rambler - who said he has no intention of changing his ways and wearing clothes in public - that he could "end up serving prison sentence after prison sentence".

But Gough today confirmed he had not yet co-operated with the social work department and was not prepared to meet them.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Williamson told him: "You were indulged by the authorities and the police.

"I understand you to have left prison some time before your arrest.

"Police officers told you that if you carried on your journey you would pass a playground occupied by children.

"You were given three options: one to change direction, two to cover your private parts, or three to enter the police van, who would then take you round the play park, release you and allow you on your way.

"Despite that, you refused. That shows a degree of arrogance and disregard for other members of the public, in particular children, who have a right not to be confronted by naked men."

The sheriff said Gough's "arrogance" continues to this day.

"In these circumstances I have no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence," he said.

"I take into account that I consider there to be no real sinister nature to your behaviour."

Gough was allowed to leave Perth prison on July 17 and he was not re-arrested, in an apparent change of approach by Tayside Police.

But Fife Police arrested him near Dunfermline three days later.

Prior to the sentence being passed today, prosecutor Brian Robertson told the court the authorities were prepared to "facilitate" Gough's return home, if his behaviour does not cause alarm to the public.

Mr Robertson also summed up the background to Gough's case, telling the court the rambler has "repeatedly adopted an unco-operative approach" when dealing with the authorities.

He said Gough has spent much of the last nine years in Scotland.

He explained how, after a brief return to the south of England in 2006, a fully-clothed Gough boarded a plane back to Scotland but then stripped on board "to the alarm of passengers" and was arrested.

He also told how, in 2007, Gough was released from prison in Edinburgh and agreed to a police offer to be transported south. However, he changed his mind and was later arrested walking along the A71, the court heard.

Sentence was passed today after proceedings were halted for a short time over a dispute about the rambler's conduct in court.

Naked Gough was asked by the sheriff to sit down as he addressed the accused, but the rambler initially refused, saying he would "prefer to stand" and that he wanted to be treated like everyone else.

The sheriff warned he would convene the court elsewhere if necessary and ordered Gough to exit court when he refused to sit down.

When the accused returned to the courtroom after a 10-minute break, he sat in the dock throughout the remainder of the proceedings.

It is thought likely that Gough will serve his current five-month sentence behind bars in Edinburgh.

PA

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