The heady days of the British Yellow Vest movement already seem a thing of the past, and to reinforce that feeling, their self-styled leader James Goddard, a ranting clown of no known self-restraining ability, returned to Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday to be sentenced, after pleading guilty to the use of disorderly behaviour with intent to cause MP and former Tory Anna Soubry “harassment, alarm or distress”.
And you, Matey
Disorderly behaviour is, sadly, Goddard’s default setting. He is grossly offensive just by being there. As the HuffPost has reported, “The self-styled ‘yellow vest’ protester was filmed hurling abuse at the former Conservative outside the Houses of Parliament in December and January, calling her a Nazi and a traitor”. What a subtle fellow.
The result of Goddard reaching the limits of his intellectual reach? “Goddard, 30, was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for a year, on Monday after pleading guilty to one charge using disorderly behaviour with intent to cause Soubry harassment, alarm or distress”. But the icing on the cake was yet to come.
“He was also handed a five-year restraining order banning him from contacting Soubry and told he cannot enter an area, including Parliament Square, College Green, the Palace of Westminster, Portcullis House and Downing Street, and told to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work … Goddard was ordered to pay Soubry £200 in compensation, £215 in other court costs, as well as another £200 compensation to a Lithuanian police officer after admitting a separate racially aggravated public order offence towards him”.
For someone who has no visible means of financial support - unless he’s figured out how to monetise the hot air that emanates from his North And South - shelling out more than £600 is going to hurt. But what will really hurt is that Goddard has been banned from the Houses of Parliament, and the area around it, including, it seems, Westminster Tube station. That allows MPs and peers to come and go without having him in their faces.
Also, Goddard was not the only one up before Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot: “Goddard, of Altrincham was sentenced alongside 55-year-old Brian Phillips, of Kent … Phillips was sentenced to four weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for a year, and was handed the same restraining order after pleading guilty to the charge relating to Soubry, a curfew and ordered to pay £200 in other court costs”. He didn’t fare too well, either.
Those sentences send out two messages: One, that it is possible for the likes of Goddard to remain at large, yet have his ability to promote himself by harassing others emasculated considerably, and Two, it tells those still out there - hello Amy Dalla Mura and friends - that this is what potentially awaits them, should they continue to rock up outside Parliament and make a nuisance of themselves. This is hellishly effective sentencing.
Judge Arbuthnot has set back the British Yellow Vest movement some way by acting as she did yesterday, to the relief of many who wished it had happened earlier.
The landscape may look very different when Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, gets his freedom back. Just rejoice at that news.
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