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Self-styled 'Joker' jailed and banned from city centre

October 10, 2018
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A homeless man who dressed up as the Batman villain The Joker during a crime spree has today been jailed for 22 weeks and banned from the city centre for three years.

Twenty-nine-year-old Damien Hammond (pictured) obstructed a police officer and was disorderly toward police, shop staff and the public in a string of incidents over the last three months.

The crime wave came despite being given a 21-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, by magistrates on 17 April for a number of other offences including of theft, possession of an offensive weapon and indecent exposure between March and April.

Nottingham Magistrates' Court heard that the latest incidents, together with his previous convictions, revealed a course of blatant criminal conduct by the defendant whilst wearing clothes and make-up to look like The Joker - which had a "sinister, aggravating effect" on his victims.

The court was told the latest incidents included:

  • Disorderly conduct in Collin Street on 9 October.
  • Unlawful possession of cannabis in Collin Street on 9 October.
  • Disorderly behaviour toward staff at Shoe Zone, Listergate, on 23 August.
  • Disorderly conduct toward a police officer in South Parade on 23 August.
  • Obstructing a police officer in St Peter's Square on 15 August.
  • Disorderly conduct toward store staff at Tesco Express in Station Street on 14 August.

In a report to the court, Community Protection Enforcement Officer Jeff Surgay said: "The defendant's criminal conduct involving intimidating retail staff and disorderly conduct towards police officers, in one case striking an officer to the forehead whilst obstructing a drugs search, has been conducted over a prolonged period of time.

"That, together with him altering his appearance to resemble 'The Joker' appears to be calculated to induce fear into members of the public and retail staff in the city centre.

"His actions had the capacity to endanger retail staff and other innocent parties nearby. It’s clear that action needed to be taken to prevent his continued criminal and anti-social behaviour. Nottingham Magistrates' Court agreed and in passing sentence also activated 18 weeks of a 21-week suspended sentence of imprisonment imposed in April 2018, with a consecutive four weeks for the offence of obstructing a police officer."

The court was told Hammond, of no fixed address, had already been banned from the intu Victoria Centre until April 2021 at the previous court sentencing in April this year. Efforts had also been made to provide support and help him escape his spiral of worsening behaviour.

The new three-year Criminal Behaviour Order bans him from entering the entire city centre, except for when attending court or pre-arranged appointments with a Framework support worker in Friar Lane.

City Centre Neighbourhood Inspector Anwaar Ahmed said: "Hammond has been a persistent offender in the city centre and his behaviour has not only caused distress to shop workers and members of the public but has also escalated to him being disorderly and obstructive toward police officers.

"Despite being offered support from partner agencies and previously being given a second chance by the court his offending continued.

"It is very rare for someone to be banned from the entire city centre but when necessary we and our partner agencies will take all steps available to us to prevent this kind of behaviour."

Nottingham City Council Portfolio Holder for Community Protection Councillor Toby Neal welcomed the outcome, saying: "Our officers along with police officers have for a long time been attempting to tackle and challenge this man’s behaviour, while also signposting him towards any support services he may benefit from. The ban imposed by the court will provide respite for people in the city centre who have had to ensure his intimidating and unacceptable behaviour."

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