The Morecambe Birdman – professional views

Professor Cary Cooper.
Professor Cary Cooper.
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Two legal experts and a leading academic have given their opinions on the case of the Morecambe Birdman.

Dan Bunting, a lawyer commenting on, said: “There are sentencing guidelines for breach of an ASBO.

“Because of the repeated breaches, it would probably be in the middle category (starting point six weeks, with a range of a non-custodial sentence up to 26 weeks).

“There was a guilty plea here which should attract full credit. It is a difficult one to sentence – on the one hand there was no harm done and there appears to be very little point in locking up a pensioner for feeding the birds. But on the other hand, if people won’t comply with court orders, there’s not much else that can be done if there are repeat breaches.

“There are underlying questions of whether an ASBO was necessary in this case. There are genuine concerns as to whether these are handed out too liberally (they are), but that does not mean that they are sometimes necessary.

“This case does raise an interesting question of how we deal with people who do not conform with society’s norms. Sometimes it is clear that we over-react, other situations are more complicated, such as this one. How do you deal with Mr Wilkinson?”

Prof Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, said: “It’s important to try to unpick the reasons why he is doing it to find a solution.

“Prison is not the answer. When he gets out, he’s going to do it again.

“You get someone to try to work with him to uncover what is causing his behaviour.”

Gary Rycroft, a Lancaster solicitor known as ‘the Legal Seagull’, said: “Thousands of pounds have been spent on trying to sort out his anti-social behaviour.

“What he is doing is a health hazard. Pigeons are flying rats. Prison may not be the best place for him if he has an underlying problem, but there are pre-sentence reports and the (magistrates) bench will have taken this into account. If people don’t comply with ASBOs they have to go to jail and that’s the law of the land.”