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Man strumming imaginary banjo cleared of outraging public decency on a Reading train

by | 7th, March 2012

MELVYN Webb, 54, of Basingstoke, Hampshire, had been accused of outraging public decency on the 7.08am Basingstoke to Reading train. The woman who claimed to have seen a “newspaper moving on his lap as he breathed heavily” grasped the wrong end of the stick. Mr Webb is entirely innocent. As he told police:

“For my sins I play the banjo, so sometimes I do, with my hands, pick out a pattern on my knees.”

I am the music man, and this is what I play-ayyy… What do you play-ayyy? It’s a banjo, I’m telling you. The woman who complained to police – she adds that she felt a movement against her leg as she listened to her iPod – tells the court:

“I know what he was doing. He was doing what he shouldn’t have been doing, without a shadow of a doubt. I felt absolutely violated. I was an emotional wreck at the time. I was furious. The longer I stood there the more angry I got. I thought ‘he’s not doing what I think he’s doing’. I thought ‘no way’ and looked over at him and my eyes carried on up. He was facing me, breathing heavily and snarling.”

Mr Webb made known a respiratory tract infection and videos of himself playing a banjo.

The Mirror notes:

Judge Mr Recorder Jeremy Donne, QC made reference to a 2007 BBC TV documentary called Street Doctor which showed men scratching their groin in public and said that the act was commonplace

“The TV show made that very point. They had a series of films of men walking down the street and fiddling with themselves,” said the judge.

The Mail adds:

Jurors giggled as Mr Webb was called on to mime his plucking, positioning the newspaper over his hand and tapping his fingers on his knee. Describing his groin prob-lem, Mr Webb added: ‘I was adjusting my underpants. I was uncomfortable.’

The jury cleared Mr Webb of any wrongdoing. Says Mr Webb:

“I feel very, very angry about all this. It’s cost me a lot of money, eight days off work and a job. I can understand a woman being distressed at that sort of thing, but I got the feeling her story grew after the police got involved. I’m bewildered it got this far. It’s been a big strain.”

Let the train give you strain. And a banjo. Mr Webb may care to travel with his instrument in future and avoid misunderstandings…



Posted: 7th, March 2012 | In: Reviews Comments (5) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink