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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 January 2004, 11:24 GMT
Pirate radio operator sentenced
A man whose pirate radio station left firefighters without emergency radio coverage over an area of the West Midlands covering three million people has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Cecil Morris, the "prime mover" behind Birmingham-based People's Community Radio Link (PCRL), was also fined 3,000 and ordered to pay 5,000 costs after a jury at Birmingham Crown Court found him guilty of conspiring to manage, finance and operate the unauthorised station.

Judge Robert Orme said on Friday that Morris, 57, and two co-defendants, Anthony Jeffers and Michael Norton, appeared to have been "obsessed" with PCRL.

Morris, who ran PCRL from a flower shop, had denied two conspiracy charges brought by the telecommunications watchdog Ofcom.

Previous conviction

The court heard that the pirate station's transmissions rendered messages between fire crews and controllers unintelligible, leaving firefighters without any proper communication and potentially putting lives at risk.

Morris, of Dudley Road, Winson Green, Birmingham, had been ordered to carry out community service in 1994 after being convicted of involvement with the pirate station, which started broadcasting in 1985.

Jeffers, a father-of-two who presented music shows, and Norton, who helped run PCRL's website, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges at an earlier hearing.

Jeffers, 43, of Newcombe Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, was ordered to do 200 hours of community service and pay 3,000 costs.

Community leader

Norton, a 52-year-old TV engineer from Dockar Road, Northfield, Birmingham, was sentenced to 120 hours' community service and told to pay 2,000 in costs.

Sentencing the trio, Judge Orme said pirate stations caused unknown and immeasurable levels of interference and disruption to the emergency services, legitimate broadcasters and the general public.

Addressing Morris, the judge acknowledged he was a cornerstone of the black community in north Birmingham and had done much work to help disadvantaged youngsters in the area.

But he added: "If you are caught and investigated again and convicted within two years of today, I would be amazed if you do not have to serve the nine-month sentence."


SEE ALSO:
Pirate radio 'swamped airwaves'
15 Jan 04 |  West Midlands


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