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Dirty protest in Doncaster – Conviction appeal fails

Dirty protest

We became aware of a story about a man from Doncaster who staged a dirty protest at a police cell. The Star reported  that Allen Vincent appeared in court for a two-day hearing in front of a judge and two magistrates.

Putting the scraps of information together, we can safely assume that Allen Vincent appealed against his conviction (in the Magistrates’ Court) for criminal damage. 

Vincent suffers from autism, Aspergers syndrome and bilateral permanent hearing loss. He appeared at the court wearing a ‘not guilty’ label stuck to his forehead. 

The facts

Vincent was arrested in February for breaching bail conditions and was detained at Doncaster police station. A nurse attended to assess his fitness to be detained by the police but he refused to co-operate. The next morning, it was reported that he was found naked and had covered himself with excrement and written on the walls (presumably with excrement). 

He swore and threw excrement at a duty officer and urinated on a cell door. He also refused to clean himself up. The Star reported that he did not accept that he had damaged the cell and had been unlawfully arrested several times. 

The offence

Criminal damage is an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. Section 1(1) states:

A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.

The fact that the cell would not have been permanently damaged does not preclude a conviction for criminal damage (Roe v Kingerlee [1986] CLR 735 – smearing ‘mud’ on the wall of a police cell that had to be cleaned off was criminal damage).

The appeal

We can assume then that upon pleading not guilty in the Magistrates’ Court, he was convicted after a trial and appealed his conviction. 

That appeal is to the Crown Court in front of a circuit judge (a crown court judge) and two magistrates (from the magistrates’ court – but not the same magistrates as presided over the trial). There are more details available here about appeals from the Magistrates’ Court to the Crown Court. 

Because Vincent has difficulties communicating, he was permitted to submit in writing his complaints. We understand those complaints relate to what Vincent considers to be his unlawful treatment. 

The Judge said he had sympathy with Vincent but that Vincent knew what he was doing.

The result

The appeal appears to have been successful in part. Unfortunately for Mr Vincent, the successful part did not relate to the conviction. 

The conviction appeal was rejected, presumably on the basis that Vincent’s assertion that he did not ‘damage’ the cell was rejected. 

The order for costs (£405) and a compensation order (an unspecified amount) were quashed. 

The community order (12 months in length) remained. It is unclear the requirements which were attached.