Friday, August 08, 2014

Man fined for pretending to be ghost in cemetery

A man has been fined for pretending to be a ghost in a cemetery. Anthony Stallard, 24, had been out drinking when he went to Kingston Cemetery in Portsmouth, Hampshire. While there with friend Martin Collingwood, Stallard was seen kicking a football at graves before making ghostly noises within earshot of people visiting graves. He was reported to police, who arrested him and charged him with using threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause distress.

Prosecuting at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, Tim Concannon said: "While the football was going on they were shouting and this defendant was effectively singing loudly and being disrespectful in among the graves. He was throwing himself backwards, waving his arms about and going 'wooooooo'. I’m assuming he was pretending to be a ghost." Stallard accepted at a previous hearing that his behaviour could cause distress to grieving relatives and had pleaded guilty.

Defending Denise Saunders said: "He has accepted that his behaviour, if it had been outside of a cemetery would not have been inappropriate, but inside a cemetery while people are grieving for their loved ones it might be." She added: "He is apologetic as demonstrated by his early guilty plea." The court heard that Stallard had committed the offence while subject to a 12-month conditional discharge, which he had received for a charge of harassment in January. He was also in breach of a suspended sentence for an offence of assault, which he had committed in August last year.

Ms Saunders argued that Stallard had complied well with his previous sentence of supervision and he was being tested for autism, which could have meant he did not understand the consequences of his actions. Stallard, of Southsea, was fined £35 and made to pay a £20 victim surcharge and £20 in court costs. An extra three months was added to his suspended sentence, which will now run for 15 months instead of the previous 12. If he commits a further offence that breaches this suspended sentence, he will face 12 weeks imprisonment. Charges of causing damage to the gravestones caused when the pair were playing football were dismissed due to lack of evidence when neither witness showed at court. The case against Mr Collingwood, 36, of Portsmouth, was discontinued.

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