Published: 17:00, 07 February 2017 |
Updated: 10:24, 08 February 2017
A naked carpenter has been cleared of 11 public order charges after a two-day trial.
Iraq War veteran Rob Jenner was arrested four times in September and October after police were repeatedly called to his Eccles property.
The 42-year-old was carrying out DIY and gardening at the Stevens Road terraced house wearing nothing but his work boots.
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This evening at Maidstone Magistrates' Court after almost two hours of deliberation magistrates returned not guilty verdicts, concluding his freedom of expression outweighed any alarm caused.
The bench had heard from four witnesses whose reactions to Mr Jenner's actions ranged from awkwardness to anger.
Frederick Black said he was so disgusted when he saw him bent over mixing cement he dialled 999 while Lisa Jarrett saw him on several occasions and said it made her feel "not very nice."
Michael Smith was so angry when he spotted Mr Jenner leaning on a rake he marched up to his door and demanded he get out of the house.
Paul Edwards, prosecuting, said Mr Jenner was an exhibitionist and not a naturist and he must have known the consequences of his actions as he had erected a sign asking people not to be offended.
But Alex Davey, defending, said he had never intended to cause harassment, alarm or distress and was simply exercising his right to be naked.
Giving evidence this afternoon Mr Jenner was resolute in his belief he had done nothing wrong, telling magistrates he was fighting for tolerance.
He said naturism gave him "a sense of freedom and liberty," adding: "There's no constraints and everyone is the same."
However he conceded he would not go nude in the street as he was not "strong enough."
The former soldier, who lives in Snodland, became a naturist in 1999 while based in Cyprus because it was hot and he had chanced upon a secluded beach.
He toured Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and left the army a year later, buying the Eccles property which he now rents.
He was slapped with a restraining order banning him from going to leisure centres last year after walking around naked on several occasions but was never convicted of any offence.
Magistrates took that order into account and ruled his behaviour between August and October was disorderly but said being naked was a form of expression and his human rights outweighed the alarm caused.
Andrew Backway, chairman of the bench, said: "In regard to the charge from August 29 we find you not guilty as we cannot be sure if you were inside or outside your property.
"On September 1 we find you not guilty because Mrs Jarrett went down the road to get a better look. On September 7 no one saw you so we find you not guilty.
"In regard to the regard to the remaining eight charges we are satisfied you knew your behaviour was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
"However your article 10 rights are engaged because being naked is a form of expression. We find your freedom does not amount to disorderly behaviour because you were in your own garden which has restricted views."
Speaking after the hearing Mr Jenner said he will continue to practise naturism when the weather improves, adding: "People should be more tolerant, it's just a body at the end of the day."
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