Pro­tester is banned from city un­til 2020

AL­TER­CA­TION AT COUN­CIL LEADS TO EX­CLU­SION

Leicester Mercury - - News - By DAN MAR­TIN daniel.mar­tin@reach­plc.com @dan­james­martin

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.”

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