Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 25 April 2008 16:17 UK

Stripper's weapon 'not offensive'

Stuart Kennedy dressed in police uniform
Stuart Kennedy performs as a stripogram called Sgt Eros

A police stripogram's truncheon was not an offensive weapon, judges have ruled.

Stuart Kennedy - known as Sgt Eros - was charged and put on trial after his act drew the attention of Grampian Police in Aberdeen.

Charges of having an offensive weapon in a public place without a reasonable excuse were thrown out by a sheriff.

The Crown appealed, but judges at the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh have backed the sheriff. Mr Kennedy said it was "excellent".

I still cannot believe it ever got to this stage
Stuart Kennedy

The news was broken to him by the BBC Scotland news website, and Mr Kennedy said: "It was a silly prosecution in the first place.

"The points the prosecution were making were silly. It's a work uniform.

"I am glad that's the end of this case, it was wasting court time let alone appeal time, the money could be spent in better ways."

He added: "I still cannot believe it ever got to this stage."

Mr Kennedy was questioned and later charged by Grampian Police after performing at a bar in Aberdeen last year.

A charge of impersonating a police officer was later dropped by prosecutors.

Important principle

Mr Kennedy went on trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court accused of carrying two batons and a spray without lawful authority.

However, Sheriff Kenneth Stewart said: "There is no evidence at all which even hints at the suggestion that he had any intention of causing harm or injury to other persons."

We could have ninjas carrying nunchaku sticks or going as a ned carrying a flick knife
Brian McConnachie QC
Advocate depute

The Crown Office then announced an appeal against the ruling that Mr Kennedy's stripogram work did amount to a reasonable excuse.

Advocate depute Brian McConnachie QC, for the Crown, had argued that if the Sheriff Stewart's ruling went unchallenged it could create a legal loophole for carrying weapons.

He acknowledged the decision to prosecute Mr Kennedy had attracted a great deal of publicity which was "fairly negative" as far as the Crown was concerned.

However, he insisted there was an important principle at stake. Criminals should not be allowed to flout the law on offensive weapons by claiming they were on the way to a fancy dress party, he said.

Crown fails

"We could have ninjas carrying nunchaku sticks or going as a ned carrying a flick knife," he said.

Neither Kennedy nor his lawyers were at a hearing last week and immediately protested that they had not been told it was going ahead and had not had a chance to put their arguments.

The decision to take forward an appeal was certainly not a waste of time, nor was the prosecution
Crown Office spokesperson

They were expecting a new date to be set, but judge Lord Johnston said on Friday there was no need because Kennedy had won.

Lord Johnston said he, together with Lord Reed and temporary judge Gordon Nicholson QC had already made up their minds.

"The opinion of the court is ready but has not been issued," said Lord Johnston. "But we are prepared to announce the Crown appeal will fail and reasons will be given in due course so no harm has been done."

A Crown Office spokesperson: said: "The decision to take forward an appeal was certainly not a waste of time, nor was the prosecution.

"The law seeks to stop people carrying weapons that are made and designed to cause injury, simply because such weapons could be used to cause harm. Police batons are such weapons.

"The appellant in this case was carrying such a weapon, and the Crown was of the view that the law required to be clarified as to whether on the facts of this case it could be deemed appropriate for him to do so. It is for this reason the Crown appealed the previous ruling."

The spokesperson added: "We note the ruling of the Appeal Court today. It is not possible for the Crown - or other commentators - to comment with authority on today's ruling before we have sight of the court's full written judgement."


SEE ALSO
Crown to appeal stripper ruling
13 Dec 07 |  North East/N Isles
Police stripogram student cleared
04 Dec 07 |  North East/N Isles
Police stripogram goes on trial
30 Nov 07 |  North East/N Isles
Police uniform stripper charged
26 Apr 07 |  North East/N Isles

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