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Asbowatch VII: Turn it up loud

By Duncan Walker
BBC News

THE ASBOWATCH CHRONICLES
Novel Asbos

The battle against anti-social behaviour is still being waged around the country as the authorities try to crack down on bad manners, abusive conduct and irritating activities.

Over the past few months, the Magazine has been keeping track of some of the inventive uses local authorities and courts have made of the anti-social behaviour order - the Asbo.

There have been some pretty novel, sometimes bizarre, examples. This month's crop, below, shows that the battle goes on.

TURN IT UP LOUD

A little hard of hearing, one Ozzy Osbourne fan played his favourite heavy metal tunes just a bit louder than the neighbours liked.

Cartoon of speakers in a window

The floorboards were shaking, residents of the estate in Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire said. And it was only 9am.

But the excessive volume was not entirely the ageing rocker's fault, his lawyer argued. For one thing, his hearing aid had been broken during an assault and he did not have the 190 needed to replace it.

Not only that, but: "The windows were open, the washing machine was on and there was someone from the council cutting the grass outside."

Unmoved by the struggle to get his Black Sabbath fix, the court ruled it was a breach of an Asbo for previous noise pollution and a three month jail sentence was his.

SCILLY BOY

It was when the hot water failed that the trouble started for prolific Scilly Isles knicker-thief Andrew Stephan.

Hunting for leaky pipes, his ex-wife's new partner stumbled upon the sizable stash of pilfered women's underwear, sex toys and photographs that the builder had left behind upon moving out of the family home.

Police on the remote islands had to ask female residents to come forward to identify their "particularly personal items". It did not go down well.

After pleading guilty to 10 counts of theft, Stephan was handed 150 hours of unpaid community service and an Asbo banning him from the islands until 2012.

"The main thing" said the officer leading the case, is that "these women haven't got to see him for the next seven years".

CAN I HAVE ONE TOO?

While others determinedly contest efforts to slap an Asbo on them, some are more open-minded about the prospect.

Impressed by the change in his girlfriend's fortunes since she was handed an order, one drug -user asked officials if they wouldn't mind giving him one too.

The Asbo, he hoped, would help him kick his drugs habit, just as his girlfriend had been able to.

The crack-user's wish was granted, and he was duly banned from the London boroughs of Westminster, Camden and Islington to keep him away from the drug dealers there.

"This is clearly a case of where an Asbo can help the individual as much as it helps the community to sort out the problem of drugs," a police spokeswoman told the Ham & High newspaper.

GET DRUNK, STAY DRUNK

It was when the 15-year-old miscreant was hauled into court that the problem was first noticed.

Beer
Thirsty work: The trials of being threatening

Angered by his unruly, boozed-up behaviour, police had hoped magistrates would punish the youth for breaching his Asbo. He hadn't.

Closer examination revealed that he had mistakenly been ordered not to be in public "without" alcohol and that he was also duty bound to act in a threatening manner likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to others.

After the boy escaped punishment as a result of the misprint, the officials behind the mistake were asked to deliver a new Asbo with more appropriate wording, the Daily Mirror reported.

THEY START 'EM YOUNG

A second clerical error led to an Asbo being threatened against a youngster who even the most hard-hearted magistrate would find it hard to punish.

Pregnant woman
One to keep an eye on

The problem, said the local council, was that neighbours were upset by the "nuisance and annoyance" caused by the young lad's whizzing around on a motorbike.

A reasonable complaint perhaps, but as his mother points out, it seems a little harsh when the boy is still in the womb.

"It must be the first time an unborn child has been threatened with an Asbo - I just hope it's not an omen," she said after officials apologised.

A DOG NAMED....

That the term "Asbo" has entered the English language was underlined when it joined "chav" as a new entry in the latest edition of the Collins English Dictionary.

Staffordshire bull terrier
What's in a name?

But its arrival has not just been marked by those responsible for filling the nation's bookshelves.

The cry "Asbo! Here, Asbo!" saw a Staffordshire bull terrier obediently scamper to its master's side in one Hull park, poet Ian Killen told the Guardian.

Working on a project to record unusual dogs' names, the writer discovered another called Twoc - short for Taken Without Owner's Consent.

"The dog's names are a vivid portrayal of the world their owners live in," he told the paper.

A FAMILY AFFAIR

Claims that they spat at a vicar didn't paint a pretty picture of Christine Maughan and her two teenage daughters.

Christine  Maughan and her daughters Ann-Marie and Julie
The Maughans: Banned from cold calling

They had approached the north Wales clergyman and his wife to ask for the money to buy train tickets to Manchester, Denbigh magistrates were told.

It was not the only complaint. The family often called at "very neat homes with neat gardens, the type where elderly people live," the court heard. The visits were not strictly social.

Their reward is an Asbo banning them from cold calling at homes anywhere in the UK.

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