It appears that James Hellewell from somewhere near Leeds had taken a picture of his mother, bound, blindfolded and gagged in the back of his pick up truck, had the image printed and then fixed it to the tailgate of his truck, to create the impression that he was driving around having kidnapped a woman and placed her in the rear of his truck (what a joker, eh?).
Anyhow…as was entirely predictable, someone called the police and Mr Hellewell had a visit from the police:
Ch Insp Steve Palmer said:
“It was clear that a number of people had found the image offensive and had been alarmed and distressed by it being displayed in public.
The registered keeper of the vehicle was traced and spoken to by officers and made aware of the concerns raised and the potential for the continued display of the image to be treated as a public order offence.”
Is that a little over the top? Let’s see…
The Public Order Act 1986 s.5 is the weapon of choice here:
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—
(a) [not relevant]
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening or abusive,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
Section 6(4) clarifies the requisite mental element of the offence:
A person is guilty of an offence under section 5 only if he intends his words or behaviour, or the writing, sign or other visible representation, to be threatening, abusive or insulting, or is aware that it may be threatening, abusive or insulting or (as the case may be) he intends his behaviour to be or is aware that it may be disorderly.
If there were a prosecution under s.5, one wonders whether it could truly be said that the sticker was “threatening, abusive or insulting” (probably not) – and perhaps also whether Mr Hellewell was aware that his behaviour may be disorderly (I suspect he probably was).
When contacted for a comment, he said: “”It’s boring now, it’s removed and I’ve apologised, get a grip.”
Some will no doubt have found this amusing, others, it appears were concerned and apparently suffered “distress”. Either way, a prosecution would seem way over the top and it appears that the response of the police in this instance – to go and have a quiet word – was more rational (though we question whether the mention of a public order offence was a) necessary and b) accurate.)