UK

‘Somerset Gimp’ banned from gimping for five years

Joshua Hunt leaves Bristol Magistrates’ Court after receiving a five-year sexual risk order (Ben Birchall/PA)
Joshua Hunt leaves Bristol Magistrates’ Court after receiving a five-year sexual risk order (Ben Birchall/PA) Joshua Hunt leaves Bristol Magistrates’ Court after receiving a five-year sexual risk order (Ben Birchall/PA)

A self-employed gardener has been banned for five years from dressing in an all-black gimp suit in public at night and “crawling, wriggling or writhing on the ground” after police linked him to 25 incidents committed by the so-called “Somerset Gimp”.

Joshua Hunt, 32, has been made subject of the sexual risk order which also prevents him from wearing any type of mask or face covering unless for medical reasons.

A district judge imposed the tough order following a hearing at Bristol Magistrates’ Court just a week after Hunt had been convicted of two offences under the Public Order Act of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.

Joshua Hunt was convicted last week of offences under the Public Order Act and is now the subject of a five-year Sexual Risk Order (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)
Joshua Hunt was convicted last week of offences under the Public Order Act and is now the subject of a five-year Sexual Risk Order (Avon and Somerset Police/PA) Joshua Hunt was convicted last week of offences under the Public Order Act and is now the subject of a five-year Sexual Risk Order (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

Last week’s hearing heard how a man in an all-black gimp suit had terrified two female motorists in May this year in Bleadon, near Weston-super-Mare.

It was the latest in a series of bizarre incidents where a man dressed skin-tight dark clothing was seen writhing around on the ground and stepping out in front of cars in remote locations across North Somerset since 2018.

The court previously heard that witnesses to one incident in October last year saw a man wearing a gimp suit who grabbed his penis over the top of his clothing and also “gyrated against the floor”.

Lawrence Wilcox, representing Avon and Somerset Police, told Friday’s hearing that Hunt had been linked to 25 incidents in total.

“The evidence of the earlier incidents is based upon intelligence reports and the latter reports is more specific,” he said.

“But, we say, if the court is satisfied that the intelligence of the earlier incidents were of a sexual nature and committed by the defendant; there is material within that bundle that relates to that of a sexual nature and the acceptance of necessity.”

Peter Richardson, defending, said Hunt had taken a “pragmatic and practical approach” to the application.

“We are not contesting the application but that is not the same as agreeing with everything that is set out,” he said.

The sexual risk order was imposed for five years and also means Hunt is on the sex offenders’ register for the same period.

Police found several masks with white neon paint painted on them when Hunt was arrested (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)
Police found several masks with white neon paint painted on them when Hunt was arrested (Avon and Somerset Police/PA) Police found several masks with white neon paint painted on them when Hunt was arrested (Avon and Somerset Police/PA)

Among the restrictions, Hunt, of Claverham, North Somerset is banned from:

– Wearing any type of mask or face covering, including improvised mask or face coverings that cover all or part of the face, in any public place, including whilst in a vehicle in a public place, unless officially required for medical purposes or by law.

– Being in possession of any type of mask or face covering, including improvised masks or face coverings that cover all or part of the face, in a public place, including whilst in a vehicle in a public place, between the hours of 2100 and 0600 unless officially required for medical purposes or by law.

– Wearing or being in possession of black all-in-one garments or any combination of full-length black coloured top and black coloured bottom clothing which has the appearance of an all-in-one garment, in a public place, including in a vehicle in a public place between the hours of 2100 and 0600.

– Crawling, wriggling or writhing on the ground in a public place whilst wearing a full-body covering, clothing that appears like a full body covering and/or mask/full face covering.

There are also restrictions placed upon Hunt’s computer use and access of the internet.

Imposing the order, District Judge Joanna Dickens said: “I am satisfied that you have done a series of acts of a sexual nature.

“I have been informed what they are, and they certainly fall within the terms of the Act.

“They are clearly acts of a sexual nature with a sexual element to them.

“A sexual risk order is quite a serious order, and it has a lot of obligations of you and if you breach this order you can go to prison.

“I only make an order if I think it is necessary to protect the public from you and I do think it is necessary.”

His trial last week heard that when Hunt was arrested in May this year, he told police: “I am not a gimp, I do not own a gimp suit.

“I am not in a gimp suit. I am not dangerous, I am a normal person, I have got a few problems.”

He had also researched news and videos online about the Somerset Gimp who had been terrorising people late at night since 2018.

The farmer’s son had previously been arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance in connection with a series of incidents in the Cleeve, Claverham and Yatton areas last year.

But due to insufficient evidence no further action was taken.