Bristol kerb crawler, 74, caught with trousers down

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By WestburyOnTrym People | Wednesday, September 23, 2009, 07:00

A 74-year-old Bristol man was caught with his pants down when police found him cavorting with a prostitute in his car.

Michael Bishop had already been warned twice about driving around in the early hours in areas of St Paul's where prostitutes were on the streets.

Yet he ignored the advice – and an Acceptable Behaviour Contact (ABC) he had signed a month before – by picking up a sex worker in Portland Square on June 5.

Bristol magistrates heard that when officers pulled up alongside the ex-soldier's grey Toyota Yaris at about 3.30am, they saw a woman looking startled in his front passenger seat.

Giving evidence at Bishop's trial, PC Andrew Dino said he went to the driver's window to ask him what he was up to, noticed his shorts were "down around his thighs", and he was frantically trying to pull them back up. Meanwhile, a woman who was a known prostitute got out and walked off, wearing only a pink top and no underwear.

Bishop, a member of the exclusive Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), said he was only in the area listening to the cricket and sport on the radio.

But he was convicted and fined for soliciting a woman for prostitution, in a way likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to people in the neighbourhood.

Prosecuting, Kirsty Allman told the court how Bishop, of Northover Road, Westbury-on-Trym, was first seen circling Portland and Brunswick Squares at 12.55am on the day of his arrest by PCs Mark Foster and Glenda Sowden.

They warned him that he was in a red light district and told him if he stayed in the area he might be arrested.

After leaving him parked, the officers told plain-clothed PCs Stephen Powell and Bryony Buckley he was acting suspiciously.

From their car, they saw him driving around both squares and nearby roads before talking to him at about 1.30am.

Bishop, who was wearing shorts, sandals and a T-shirt, was once again told that he was in an area used by sex workers but maintained he was listening to the radio and did not know of the area's reputation.

But when PC Marc Quittelier and PC Dino entered Portland Square in their squad car at 3.30am, they caught Bishop in the act. PC Dino told the magistrates: "I could see the male occupant of the vehicle appeared to be pulling up his shorts, which were below his waist-line and by his thighs."

The court heard as he got out of the car to talk to the officer, Bishop's shorts fell down to his ankles.

PC Quittelier said he caught up with the woman, put her name through the Police National Computer and found she had previous convictions for prostitution.

It also emerged Bishop had signed an Acceptable Behaviour Contract – a voluntary agreement with police aimed at preventing an offender being made the subject of a court-imposed anti-social behaviour order – after he was found cruising the area on May 13. He had been given a map of places he could not go without breaching the agreement.

But giving evidence, Bishop, who is going through a divorce, adamantly denied the allegations and said he had been "an innocent victim" in the "wrong place at the wrong time".

He told the court: "I certainly was not driving around looking for any ladies of the night."

Bishop told magistrates he had been to a gym in Westbury, which shuts at 11pm, and drove to the area to listen to a programme about war, followed by the cricket and sports reports.

A self-employed health insurance salesman at the time, he said he would often go to Brunswick Square for his lunch.

He said couldn't remember signing the ABC contract and denied he was warned earlier that morning that he was in a red light district.

The 74-year-old claimed the woman got in unannounced through his passenger door, which he thought was locked, but only for a few seconds.

Bristol Magistrates ordered Bishop, who had no previous convictions, to pay a total of £570 in fines and costs.

      

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