Protester is banned from city until 2020
ALTERCATION AT COUNCIL LEADS TO EXCLUSION
A JUDGE has told a homelessness campaigner Leicester will be “well rid” of him after banning him from the city.
James McLean has been told he cannot set foot in Leicester for two years in a step taken to “protect the people of the city, and especially employees of the city council”.
The 39-year-old appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday to be sentenced having previously been convicted following a confrontation he had with security staff at the Leicester City Council’s customer care centre in Granby Street.
The court heard McLean had stormed into the council building, on April 18 last year.
Andrew Vout, prosecuting said security guard Michael Harrison was on duty at the time.
Mr Vout said: “When McLean is sober he is fine. When he is in drink he makes a scene and he stormed into the council offices, and he shouted: “I’m going to hit the mayor where it hurts – in the pocket.”
Mr Vout said security staff removed McLean from the building and told him he was upsetting other people, to which he swore and said he didn’t care about the people.
Mr Vout said McLean called the security staff scum during the 45-minute confrontation, which was captured on CCTV.
Mr Vout said McLean had charged at Mr Harrison, poked his arm with a pen, pushed and shoved him and spat on him. He said McLean twice pulled of Mr Harrison’s clip-on tie and stamped on it.
Michelle Harding, defending McLean, said: “He is well known as someone who protests. He has set up camps in Jubilee Square.
“He wanted to speak to council management. He was angry. He has protested about issues including the closure of homelessness hostels and has taken it upon himself to take action. He often goes about things the wrong way.”
She said McLean now lives in Glasgow and is working with the authorities there to tackle homlessness, adding: “He’s now doing something he feels passionately about and he is doing it in the right way.”
Ms Harding said McLean had also done some work with the University of Leicester on clinical psychology projects.
The court heard McLean’s conviction, for using threatening and abusive behaviour after a trial in August, put him at risk of a prison term as the offence took place while he was serving an eight-month suspended sentence for affray
Judge Nicholas Dean, however, decided not to jail him and instead imposed a banning order to keep out of Leicester for two years.
He said: “It seems to me Leicester is well rid of Mr McLean. You are clearly not without intelligence and you are capable of being articulate, but when you have been drinking you are aggressive.
“That has got you in trouble in the past and if you repeat that you will end up in prison.
“There seems to be no point dealing with you in any way other than to protect the people of this city especially employees of the council.”
McLean was told the only exception to the ban would be if he returned to work at the university.
If he breaches the order he will be arrested, returned to court and potentially jailed.
Afterwards, McLean said: “I’m pleased I have not been sent to prison but it is just like ancient Greece. I have been ostracised by the courts to protect the citizenry.
“The problem with that is that I was actually trying to protect the citizenry by highlighting the issue of homelessness. There are people living in doorways and the council has closed its hostels.
“Protesting is by its nature confrontational but I admit my actions on this occasion might have been over the top.
“There is a right to protest within the law but on this occasion I did not do it within the law.”