Naked Rambler jailed for 16 months for ASBO breach

The Naked Rambler was today jailed for 16 months for breaching an ASBO banning him from exposing himself in public - after being found guilty in a record two minutes.

Stephen Gough, 54, has been jailed for 16 months. Picture: Neil Hanna
Stephen Gough, 54, has been jailed for 16 months. Picture: Neil Hanna
Stephen Gough, 54, has been jailed for 16 months. Picture: Neil Hanna

Former Royal Marine Stephen Gough, 54, had walked out of jail naked just two days after magistrates handed him the order in court.

The father-of-two - wearing just socks, boots and carrying his rucksack - told waiting policemen it was ‘too hot’ for clothes and refused to cover himself up.

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Jurors found the clean-shaven activist guilty after just two minutes deliberation following a brief trial today.

The serial offender was tried in his absence after turning down the chance to get dressed in order to appear in court.

Judge Recorder John Williams repeatedly had to tell a naked Gough to “please sit down” in the dock as he explained he could not take part naked before the jury were brought in.

He ruled Gough must sit out proceedings in the cells so people in court would not have to view his ‘private parts’, which were obscured while he was sitting down.

But he allowed Gough to stand as he handed him a 16 month jail term at Winchester Crown Court, Hants.

Averting his eyes, Judge Williams said: “I’m afraid there is going to be a revolving door in and out of prison, because you are intent on flouting these orders and there is absolutely no way you are going to comply with them.

“Your refusal is that you genuinely feel that it is some way in breach of your rights, but unfortuately the courts are of the view that they are not.

“I would like to hope that when you leave prison you will not leave in the state that you are today, but I know that is a vain hope.”

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Judge Williams offered unrepresented Gough, from Eastleigh, Hants, clothes to listen to the prosecution, give evidence, defend himself and hear the verdict but he declined.

Judge Williams told jurors: “He would like to address you as naked as the day he was born but I will not let him do that.”

Prosecutor Simon Jones, opening the case, said there was ‘no issue’ that Southampton Magistrates Court issued the ASBO on August 13 last year, or that he breached it on August 15.

Hampshire Police had applied for the ban after a stream of more than 33 complaints from members of the public who had seen Gough roaming the streets nude.

Mr Jones said: “Gough emerged from the prison gates and he was naked, in flagrant disregard of the order.

“He was only wearing socks, his boots and he was carrying a rucksack. He was offered clothes but declined them saying ‘It is too hot’.”

Police arrested Gough on suspicion of breaching his ASBO as he left

Winchester Prison and he admitted being naked and acknowledged the order in a 14-minute interview that afternoon.

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Witness PC Rich Moody, based at Eastleigh Police Station, Hants, stopped Gough as he walked onto the pavement in front of a queue of people waiting at a bus stop at 10.50am.

He told Gough he was in breach of his ASBO and offered him clothes.

PC Moody told the court: “I said ‘Stephen, you’re clearly in breach of your ASBO. Is there anything I can do to make you reasonably not breach your ASBO?’

“I offered him the clothing and he said ‘No, thank you, it is too hot.’

“We were opposite the county hospital and a number of people were waiting at the bus stop outside. He would definitely have appeared naked in front of those passersby.”

In police interview, Gough protested the order “didn’t make sense”.

It bans him from appearing baring his buttocks and genitals in public, unless in a changing room, during a medical examination, or on a nudist beach.

Mr Gough said in interview: “I don’t think there is anything shameful about what I am.

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“My reasonable excuse is like a big person who is stronger than you saying: ‘Do not do this.’

“It doesn’t make sense. It is going against what is reasonable.”

Asked why he was not wearing clothes when he left prison, he said: “I didn’t want to.”

The BBC was due to broadcast a documentary on August 20 following Gough’s naked 400 mile trek from Scotland to his home in Eastleigh, Hants.

But his arrest led to the film - named The Naked Rambler - being pulled from the schedules.

Breaching an Asbo can result in a maximum jail term of five years.

Gough - a former Royal Marine - chooses not to wear clothes as a protest against the idea that nudity is offensive. He also believes it is his human right.

He gained notoriety when he walked naked from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2003 and again in 2005.

He has received 28 convictions for being nude in public.