Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 6 August 2007

A cowardly bully is gaoled

Just a tale of life in an unremarkable English town. A landlord, Alan Pickersgill, takes over a pub; he happens to be gay and to have a gay partner - nothing out of the ordinary there, at least in contemporary Britain. A customer called Michael Wood, who doesn't like 'poofs', makes a series of unpleasant remarks to the new landlord and is 'barred' from the pub. He returns to the pub, not wanting to accept that he is barred, makes more unpleasnt remarks to the landlord and grabs him by the throat. He is escorted from the pub by staff and customers. Some time later he is arrested and charged with common assault.

Our 'hero' does not like this at all. Four days before the court case is to be heard, he returned to the pub and was asked to leave by a another member of staff. He returned and asked to shake the landlord's hand; the latter understandably refused, pointing out that a court case was due to be heard in four days. The barred customer then punched the landlord on the nose.

The man has righlty been convicted of common assault for the first offence and pleaded guilty to common assault and witness intimidation for the second incident. He has been gaoled for 12 months and ordered to stay away from the pub for two years. The judge remarked:

"We live in a tolerant society and homophobic remarks are totally unacceptable. These two incidents must have been very upsetting. People are entitled to go out for a quiet drink without this sort of thing going on."

I hope Mr Wood can, in the words of his defending barrister, make a "clean start" and also get help for his long-standing drink problem.

In any case it is good to see the law taking a robust attitude to this kind of anti-social behaviour directed against other law-abiding members of the community; homophobia is perhaps becoming just as unacceptable as racism has become - a long overdue development.

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