Southend beggar who breached Criminal Behaviour Order jailed

A persistent beggar who regularly caused distress to members of the public in Southend has been jailed after breaching a court order sought by Essex Police.

Richard Lewis, 37, of no fixed address, was made the subject of a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) by Southend Magistrates’ Court on April 5.

This order followed reports Lewis had been aggressively begging and escorting people to cash points to ensure they withdrew money for him.

Under the terms of the order, Lewis was strictly prohibited from swearing, intimidating or abusing people in public.

He was also ordered:

  • Not to approach people to receive goods/money within the City of Southend
  • Not to sit on the ground outside any shop
  • Not to beg in a public place
  • Not to enter any of the following tower blocks unless it’s his permanent place of residence: Pennine, Chiltern, Malvern, Quantock, Blackdown, Brecon, Grampian and Barringtons.

Despite the order being in place, on Sunday April 7, he approached a vulnerable teenage boy, who has autism, in Southend.

He asked the boy for money and when refused, resorted to intimidation.

After accosting the boy for ten minutes, Lewis escorted him to a cash machine and waited while the boy withdrew and handed over an amount of cash.

On Saturday April 13, a woman was outside Southend railway station when she was approached by Lewis.

He intimidated her and pestered her for money in breach of the CBO.

On the same day, Lewis threatened a member of staff at a shop in London Road, Southend.

On Tuesday April 16, he attended Barrington Flats in direct breach of the CBO.

A day later, on Thursday April 17, he was witnessed on CCTV assaulting a man by smashing a glass bottle over his head.

Lewis was arrested later that day.

Appearing at Southend Magistrates’ Court on Friday April 19, he admitted seven breaches of a CBO, three public order offences and possession of an offensive weapon.

He was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay £100 in compensation to the teenage boy.

PC Lois Greenlees, of Southend Town Centre Team, said: “Lewis preyed almost exclusively on the vulnerable.

“He caused great concern in the community and I know all too well how unsettling this behaviour had proved to be for law-abiding members of the public.”