The trials and tribulations of footballer Paul Gascoigne are well known. On 29th October 2015 the latest chapter closed after he pleaded guilty to harassment, criminal damage, and assault at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court.
Mr Gascoigne had been in a relationship with Amanda Thomas, but they separated at the end of last year. Ms Thomas then commenced a relationship with another man, Andrew Stone. Mr Stone worked a Steven Shepherd – both being professional photographers.
On 16 March this year Mr Gascoigne “telephoned Miss Thomas at a Post Office shop where she works in Bournemouth, but she told him not to contact her again.
He went on to send her text messages and a “series of abusive tweets” in the following days“, even after Ms Thomas asked him to stop (hence the charge of harassment contrary to s2 Protection from Harassment Act 1997).
He also went round to her place of work and caused ‘a scene’ and shouting her name.
On 16th June 2015, Mr Gascoigne got into an argument with Mr Shepherd who was “taking pictures of the former footballer as he signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans at a cafe in Bournemouth“.
Mr Gascoigne approached Mr Shepherd and demanded that he hand over his camera. This was refused and there was a confrontation which “resulted in a one-inch graze to Mr Shepherd’s head and damage to his prescription glasses“.
These are the charges of common assault and criminal damage.
There are sentencing guidelines for the magistrates for all three offences (Common Assault – p213, Criminal Damage – p44, and Harassment – p70).
The District Judge gave a 12 month Community Order, seemingly for the Common Assault. In addition, there was a £100 fine for the harassment, court costs and compensation of £1,535 and the £60 Victim Surcharge. Lastly, there was a Restraining Order for 2 years banning him from contacting Ms Thomas or, in a sign of the times, from mentioning her on social media.
The Community Order seems a sensible way of dealing with the case, although we are surprised that there was a fine for the harassment (as it is potentially as serious as the assault and we would have expected a concurrent Community Order).
But in the scheme of things, the sentence passed seems a proper way of marking the criminality whilst giving Ms Thomas the peace of mind or a Restraining Order.