Four month trial wait after Doncaster man on lockdown breach misses own court date

A Doncaster man arrested at an anti-coronavirus lockdown demo in London will have to wait four months for his trial after missing his court date.

Saturday, 19th December 2020, 7:45 am
Phillip Anthony Hartley, who also uses the name Phillip L'Estrange, was arrested at an anti lockdown demo in London.

Phillip Anthony Hartley, 37, was arrested at a demonstration against pandemic restrictions, 5G phone masts and vaccines at a 200-strong gathering in Hyde Park on May 16 after refusing a £50 fine.

His trial concluded without him at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Hartley turned up yesterday for Judge Nicholas Rimmer's judgement on the case and as he removed his fur-lined Santa hat and grey jumper before entering court, he was told by the clerk: “Your trial has already been and gone. You missed it.”

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During a heated exchange, Hartley blamed court procedure, confusion over his name and the fact he had been in jail, serving a three month sentence after being found guilty of assaulting a police officer.

The judge threatened to throw him out of court twice for repeatedly interrupting and insisting on being referred to by his first name only.

'What trial? There's been no fair trial,' said Hartley, who also uses the name Phillip L’Estrange.

'I was informed this hearing was being held today. I was released from prison two days ago as Philip L'Estrange.

'I'm confused as to which name the Crown want to deal with.'

The judge told him: 'Philip, as that is how you want to be known, I am adjourning your trial as the documentation shows you were only released December 16.

'You were imprisoned when this trial started so you could not have attended it. It has therefore been rescheduled.'

Hartley will now be tried at Westminster Magistrates Court on April 28.

The judge said there were a number of exceptions to coronavirus restrictions, naming funerals and house-movers, but declared 'none applied to the facts of this case.

'I do not find... that any defendant had a reasonable excuse either to breach the regulations in the first place... or for contravening police directions or for failing to comply with reasonable instructions once they were given,' he said.

Hartley, of Christ Church Road, denied one count of participating in a gathering in public of more than two people in England during the coronavirus emergency period and was granted unconditional bail ahead of his trial.