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Norwich beggar spared threat of prison after court refuses to impose criminal behaviour order

PUBLISHED: 18:35 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:35 15 May 2018

Norwich Magistrates Court. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norwich Magistrates Court. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant

A Norwich beggar has been spared the threat of prison after magistrates refused to approve a criminal behaviour order (CBO).

26-year-old Joseph Newton was brought before Norwich Magistrates Court on Tuesday where he admitted begging in a public place.

It put him in breach of a community protection notice (CPN), which had been imposed to prevent him from putting himself in a position to beg from another member of the public.

But after magistrates heard no evidence of Newton being aggressive or harassing, they refused to issue a criminal behaviour order asked for by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Andrew Nickerson, prosecuting, told the court Newton had been seen by police officers sitting on Malthouse Road in Norwich on May 4.

“The defendant was seen by police officers sat on the ground with money in front of him, and was heard to ask a member of the public for money,” he told the court.

“A community protection notice is not something which comes before a court very often,” added Mr Nickerson. “It is a notice which police, in conjunction with local councils, draw up which prevents a person doing certain things. It is a civil order with criminal consequences.

“The defendant, by begging, has breached that civil order. A criminal behaviour order is the next logical step.”

Breach of a CBO can result in up to five years in prison.

The court heard Newton has seven conviction for 16 offences, including three of begging and others of possession of a Class A drug.

Dave Foulkes, mitigating for Newton, said he feared prosecutors were trying to “up the ante” by dangling the prosect of prison over him.

“My concern is we are turning a non-imprisonable offence into an imprisonable offence,” he said. “I thought the courts frowned upon doing that.

“He is someone who is making concerted efforts to sort himself out. He has now got temporary accommodation at the night shelter and they have access to other support networks and services.

“He is confident he is likely to turn a corner and can avoid begging.”

Newton was fined £80 and made to pay £30 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.

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