Portsmouth man, 62, caught touching himself in public is spared prison

A MAN caught touching himself inappropriately while on a walk along the shoreline has dodged a prison sentence.

Saturday, 5th June 2021, 4:58 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th June 2021, 4:59 pm

On August 16 last year, two women found John Gaunt, 62 from Albert Road, Cosham, indecently exposed and performing a lewd act on himself in Portchester.

He appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court for sentencing, having already pleaded guilty to the one count of an act of outraging public decency.

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John Gaunt after his appearance at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court.

Prosecuting, Giles Fletcher said: ‘Two ladies were walking along the shoreline at Portchester and saw the defendant [performing a sex act]. He was exposed and they could see quite clearly what he was doing.

‘They did take picture of him to help identify him and those were given to the police.

‘The defendant’s son had bought him some Stella Artois on the day and police found clothes matching the person in the photographs in his home.’

Mr Fletcher added that Gaunt had a number of similar previous convictions, with the most recent being in 2013.

Officially, there are no sentencing guidelines for this type of offence, which instead lies within common law.

This means it is solely up to the judge to determine an appropriate sentence.

Offering mitigation for Gaunt, Howard Barrington-Clark recommended that district judge Roderick Hine spared him a custodial sentence, so that he could instead give back to the community he has wronged.

Speaking to the judge, he said: ‘I want to dissuade you from custody, so we can maximise the community order sentence.’

He added that Gaunt has no source of income, instead receiving money from his mother’s benefits.

The district judge said: ‘You have pleaded guilty to this matter; you have a history of this type of behaviour and it seems drinking is part of this problem.

‘I have decided on a community penalty with assistance to stop this happening ever again.’

Gaunt was sentenced to 36 months of unpaid work, with 55 rehabilitation days during that period.

Costs and victim surcharges were scrapped due to the defendant’s lack of income.

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