'Distressing' naked rambler fined

Herald Series: 'Naked Rambler' Stephen Gough has been found guilty of nine public order offences 'Naked Rambler' Stephen Gough has been found guilty of nine public order offences

The "naked rambler" has been fined after he was found guilty of nine public order offences for walking nude in public places including outside a primary school.

Stephen Gough, 53, of Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire, pleaded not guilty to the charges of behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

But District Judge Anthony Calloway found Gough guilty of the offences ruling that the unwitting members of the public had been "distressed" at seeing the defendant without clothes on.

He fined the defendant £200 for each offence but waived payment of the fine in lieu of time served by Gough in custody.

District Judge Calloway said: "There is evidence, in my judgment, there are elements of the defendant as an exhibitionist."

Gough gained notoriety in 2003 and 2005 when he walked naked from Land's End to John O'Groats and was the subject of a TV documentary. His refusal to put on clothes in public has led to him spending prolonged terms in prison for repeatedly breaching court rulings. Gough was banned from entering the court after he refused to wear clothing for the trial.

Giving his ruling that Gough couldn't sit naked during the hearing, District Judge Calloway said: "What is offensive? In my opinion to enter a court room naked for any purpose is potentially disrespectful to the court, its staff, the public and those interested in the proceedings and in my judgment is capable of being regarded as offensive."

Charles Nightingale, prosecuting, said that in several of the offences Gough was seen by parents with young children who were "shocked and alarmed" at seeing him naked. He said the offences took place in various locations including country footpaths, Southampton city centre and at a magistrates' court.

A 17-year-old girl who saw Gough on another occasion said: "I was really shocked that he was walking around naked. I use that footpath a lot, I do not know what his intentions were, whether he was going to hurt us or whether he was a sexual predator. If I had seen him on my own I would have been really scared and run away from him."

Gough remains in custody as he awaits trial for a further charge of an alleged breach of an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) banning him from being naked in public.

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