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“A man who dressed in a latex black “gimp suit” and terrified female motorists on a rural road in Somerset has been found guilty of causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress.
Joshua Hunt, 32 years old, caused one woman to think she was being kidnapped and made another cry when he crawled and twisted on the floor while wearing a black outfit and mask on May 7th and 9th.
The police caught him when an officer saw his van backing out of a field entrance. Hunt told the officer, “I am not a gimp and I do not have a gimp suit on.”
During a search of his car, various items such as masks, black gloves, black tape, and clothing, as well as a UV white marker, were discovered. Further searches of his belongings revealed a troubling journal entry where he had written a narrative about a character named Jack who crafted masks out of women’s tights.
Hunt, a resident of Claverham, Somerset, had pleaded not guilty to two charges of intentionally causing harassment, alarm, or distress under the Public Order Act. However, he was ultimately convicted by a district judge and was issued a £100 fine. He was also required to pay £200 in compensation to each of his victims and £620 for prosecution costs.
Lucy Lodge, a driver, reported in a written statement that while driving along Accommodation Road in Bleadon, near Weston-super-Mare on May 7th, she observed movement on the ground.
She described the person as moving in a manner similar to military tactics, squirming and crawling. The individual was dressed in tight, dark attire and had a mask with two white crosses over the eyes. The mask was tightly fitted and dark in color.
Initially, I considered the possibility of being abducted and the individual attempting to remove me from my vehicle.
She stated, “The entire situation seemed unreal and I found myself doubting what I was witnessing. Sharing this statement causes me to feel uneasy.”
“I truly thought it was a kidnapping, as such incidents are often reported in the news. When I arrived home, I was out of breath and experiencing symptoms of a panic attack.”
Martin Mills, a passenger in a vehicle traveling in the vicinity at the same time as Miss Lodge, observed a man crawling on the ground in a “commando” style.
He mentioned that they were all dressed in black and their car lights were shining, creating a reflection on him.
In the early hours of May 9th, Hunt revisited the same location and positioned himself in the street wearing a comparable black latex outfit. This caused fear in a vehicle with two women and a teenager.
Samantha Brown was returning home from work with her sister-in-law when she encountered a person that filled her with fear. Once she arrived home, she was trembling and in tears. She was scared of the person because they had their hands behind their back, and she feared that they could have been concealing something dangerous.
After receiving information about a second occurrence, law enforcement traveled to Bleadon and observed a white Berlingo van driving in reverse in a field. They then made the decision to halt the vehicle.
Police officer Declan Coppock had a conversation with the accused individual, who was dressed in grey pants and a black hooded sweatshirt. Coppock proceeded to take him into custody, while the defendant, Hunt, insisted that he was not a pervert. Hunt stated, “I am not a threat, I am just a regular person with some personal issues.”
The person also mentioned, “I require my mother,” and later expressed to the authorities in an interview that their mental state had worsened quickly. They stated, “I am in desperate need of assistance and would appreciate support for my mental well-being.”
Upon searching his address, it was discovered in his journal that he had written the following short story: “The appearance of the face resembled something straight out of a terrifying movie – a face that would strike fear into anyone’s heart.”
In 2022 and 2023, he had searched online for information about the “Somerset Gimp” and the “Gimp of Cleeve”. He also made purchases at an Asda store for women’s tights and ordered UV paint sticks on eBay.
Hunt, a self-employed gardener, testified in court that he was experiencing significant distress in May of this year and sought support from the Samaritans and therapy.
He became emotional and expressed, “I loathed my appearance and everything about myself.”
He stated that he would venture out at night and switch into dark attire in order to engage in “mudding” – driving off-road in muddy terrain.
He stated that the attire and face coverings I have are specifically for off-roading, which explains why they were in the car.
Occasionally, I struggle with self-hatred and it weighs heavily on me. It’s a way to let go of negative feelings and emotions, almost like covering myself in them.
During the court hearing, Hunt admitted that he had purposely stood on the side of the road on two separate occasions with the intention of being struck by a car and ending his life.
He stated that it never occurred to him that his actions were causing fear among others.
“I deeply regret my actions and offer my apologies to those individuals. While I acknowledge that my behavior may have been alarming, I want to assure you that I had no intention of causing any form of harassment or distress.”
Judge Joanna Dickens acknowledged that Hunt had already served one month in prison before his trial, which she considered to be a significant punishment in itself, surpassing any sentence she could give.
She acknowledged that you have already been punished and served time in prison, causing you to lose your reputation in a highly visible manner, and likely impacting you for the rest of your life.