Asbo confusion man walks free

IPSWICH: Alcoholic and repeat offender Roy Hagley has walked free from court – after claiming he misunderstood the terms of his anti-social behaviour order.

In an “exceptional” move, Recorder David Anderson allowed prolific offender Mr Hagley to change his guilty plea previously given at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on December 6.

The 48-year-old will now return to the court in Elm Street on January 24 to enter a new not guilty plea.

Mr Hagley, of London Road, wished the judge and court staff a Happy New Year at the start of his Ipswich Crown Court hearing on Wednesday.

Speaking from the dock he added: “I am not sure mine is going to be so happy.”

Charles Myatt, for Mr Hagley, told the court he was applying for his client to vacate his plea and enter a not guilty plea in its place.

The latest incident happened when police officers arrested Mr Hagley in the Golden Lion pub on December 4 after spotting him with a pint of beer in his hand.

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Under the conditions of the Asbo, made last June, Mr Hagley, who has battled an alcohol addiction for 30 years, is prohibited from having a sealed or unsealed container of alcohol in a public place.

“He has made real efforts to stop drinking on the streets and has stopped drinking on the streets,” added Mr Myatt.

“In his mind everybody has told him it (the Asbo) is to stop him drinking in the streets – his understanding was that if he was in the privacy of the pub, not offending anybody and not on the streets he was not committing an offence.

“He has since discussed this with his solicitor and the considered view is Mr Hagley may have a defence and should be allowed to air his defence in magistrates’ court.

“Anything short would be an injustice.”

Granting the changed plea, Mr Recorder Anderson, who threatened to send Mr Hagley to the cells for his repeated outbursts in court, said the order was “extremely broad” in its prohibitions.

“He was minding his own business, he was not being abusive to anybody at the time,” Mr Recorder Anderson said.

“I am conscious of the exceptional circumstances in changing a plea.

“Ignorance, forgetfulness and misunderstanding are capable of amounting to a reasonable excuse.”