The Oldest Profession

Bristol kerb crawler banned from driving

Published in This is Bristol
18th June 2009

A serial Bristol kerb crawler has been banned from driving in an attempt to stop him going out looking for prostitutes. Gary Beddis was caught searching for street sex workers by police on June 2 – the third time in eight months. He had previously been arrested on February 10 when vice officers spotted him picking up a prostitute in Newfoundland Road, St Paul's.

At the time he agreed to a conditional caution, which prohibited him from entering certain areas of the city. But he was arrested again earlier this month after breaching the caution, just weeks before the ban was due to run out. Police had seen him cruising around Fishponds Road in Eastville, Warwick Road in Easton, and Portland Square and Brunswick Square in St Paul's.

Beddis, aged 29, of Bradley Avenue, Winterbourne, pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates Court yesterday to soliciting a person for the purpose of prostitution from a motor vehicle.

Prosecuting, May Li said: "At 9.10pm on February 10 vice officers were observing female sex workers on Portland Square in Bristol. "Officers saw a blue Vauxhall Corsa driven by Mr Beddis parked near to where a female was standing. The woman went over, bent down and spoke to him, and after a short discussion he drove away and parked in Newfoundland Road. She then got into the passenger side and they turned into a car park and parked in a corner, which was dark and secluded. The woman was next seen getting out of the car and making her way back to the St Paul's area."

Police then arrested Beddis, and took him to Trinity Road police station. Beddis, who had been issued with an acceptable behaviour contract on October 21 for kerb crawling, was offered a conditional caution. It banned him from entering certain areas, and he was ordered to undertake a "change course", costing him £200. But the caution didn't work. On June 2 he breached the ban, and in Portland Square approached a prostitute and asked her to meet him at a garage near the M32.

The court heard that he approached her knowing she was a prostitute, but he was arrested before it went any further. Miss Li said: "Mr Beddis attended the course and paid his fine, but he has clearly not learned from taking this course of action and continues to frequent red light districts." As he breached his ban, he was prosecuted for the original offence in February.

Defending himself, Beddis said: "The second time was a stupid, spur-of-the-moment action and was very regrettable. "I dropped a friend off at home and unfortunately went down that road and was driving around. I was going to go home, but the police stopped me."

Sentencing, chairman of the bench, Dr David Thomas, said: "For the offence of soliciting you will be disqualified from driving for three months, and also pay the £60 costs for the prosecution. You are banned from driving a motor vehicle on a public road or in a public place. If you do it is a very serious offence, for which you may be sent to prison."

Tony Locke, the former chairman of Eastville Residents Action Group and now a member of an task group that tackles problems in Fishponds Road, said that street workers and kerb crawlers were an on-going problem in the area. He said that street workers were often abused by the men who picked them up, and that other women were often approached as they took their children to school or picked them up. He said: "When they explain that they are not looking for punters they often have abuse thrown at them and face bad language."

Mr Locke, 68, who lives in Fishponds Road, said a three-month driving ban was not enough. He said: "We would like to see harsher penalties for kerb crawlers. We were told that they would have their vehicles scrapped, they would be disqualified from driving, and be given anti-social behaviour orders. There was a man recently given an Asbo to stay out of the area for two years, and residents were given a leaflet with his photo and a description so we could identify him. That is the sort of thing we would like to see happen. If you had harsher penalties it would act as a very good deterrent."