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Hospital order for man caught exposing himself in communal garden

PUBLISHED: 12:46 19 February 2019

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

A mentally ill Ipswich man who performed a sex act in a communal garden in front of shocked neighbours has been made the subject of a hospital order.

Stephen Ratcliffe was arrested after witnesses filmed him with their mobile phones with his trousers undone and indecently exposing himself in a communal garden behind his address in Rushmere Road, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The 63-year-old was accused of outraging public decency on June 22 last year by committing a “lewd, obscene, disgusting” act within sight of other people.

Judge Rupert Overbury told a jury he had found Ratcliffe unfit to stand trial after considering evidence from psychiatrists and said the jury’s job was to decide whether or not he had committed the act complained of.

The jury found Ratcliffe had committed the act and Judge Overbury proceeded to sentence him to a hospital order under the Mental Health Act after reading reports from psychiatrists who said Ratcliffe was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

In November 2017 Ratcliffe had pleaded guilty to three similar offences of outraging public decency, the court heard.

During the hearing, the jury viewed two film clips taken by witnesses.

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