Put on your clothes or face life in prison, naked rambler told

NAKED rambler Stephen Gough has been warned he could spend the rest of his life in jail unless he puts on some clothes.

Gough, who has become notorious for trying to walk around the UK naked, was arrested within seconds of being freed from Perth Prison on 17 December.

He was found guilty yesterday of breaching the peace by walking naked in the street and refusing a request by police to put on some clothes.

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The former lorry driver was warned that he would continue to be jailed every time he stepped out of the prison without any clothes on.

On the past two occasions when Gough has been released from jail, officers from Tayside Police were waiting at the prison gates to re-arrest him.

Naked rambler Stephen Gough and girlfriend Melanie Roberts

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis told Gough he would not have to be "crystal ball gazing" to realise that the same process would occur "again and again and again".

Gough – who has spent the bulk of the past seven years in jail for identical crimes – yesterday turned down an offer to walk free on condition that he get dressed.

Mr Foulis told him he would consider granting him bail to go back to his "warmer" home county of Hampshire if he agreed to put some clothes on, but Gough said he would not.

"A number of your recent convictions have arisen in similar circumstances," the sheriff said.

"You have more or less been apprehended when you have been released from prison.

"I suppose it doesn't need an expert in crystal ball gazing to anticipate that if I impose a custodial sentence then in so many months a similar scenario will arise.

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"When the day comes for you to be released from a prison establishment, you will be apprehended and the same process gone through again.

"This is what has happened over the last while and if I impose a custodial sentence that is a scenario which is likely to arise again and again and again."

Gough said he accepted it was "potentially" the case that he could remain in jail forever – apart from the few seconds of freedom he enjoys every six months or so.

The 50-year-old turned down the offer to go home to Eastleigh in Hampshire to see his mother, because he would not accept the condition of getting dressed.

During the trial, he compared himself to the African-American civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks, and said he believed his behaviour was "reasonable".

Gough said: "Essentially, this is about individual freedom and people's tolerance to other people being different. I understand a lot of people will disagree and have strong feelings about it.

"Walking the amount of miles I have, through towns and cities, it is on the whole a very small moral minority who act in an irrational way. I believe I am behaving in a reasonable way."

Gough was allowed to conduct his own defence in open court while completely naked and the sheriff said he would consider whether that was a contempt of court when he is sentencing. He warned Gough that he could be jailed for upwards of 18 months.

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Gough, who is kept in a segregation unit at Perth Prison for his own safety, said: "People who have brought great change often have to go to prison first. People often have to go to prison for many years before others see the light."

Perth Sheriff Court had previously heard how dealing with Gough's campaign to remain naked had cost the public purse more than 200,000 over the years.

Gough, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, was found guilty of breaching the peace near Perth Prison on 17 December and remanded in custody.

The sheriff also ordered psychological and psychiatric reports.