North Cumbrian man risks arrest if he wears a snood or a balaclava

Despite being cleared of two allegations, and not prosecuted for others, 54-year-old Gary Paul Faunch could now be prosecuted if he wears any face covering – including a snood of a balaclava – in a public place.

The unusual restriction was imposed as part of a court order after Cumbria Police convinced a judge it was necessary.

At Carlisle’s Rickergate court, Cumbria Constabulary successfully applied to have Faunch made the subject of an interim sexual risk order. Flouting its conditions would be a criminal offence, potentially resulting in a jail term.

Though not required to decide whether the allegations involved were proved, District Judge John Temperley did rule that it was “just and proportionate” to impose the interim sexual risk order.

Chief among its conditions is a prohibition of wearing face coverings.

The defendant – recently prosecuted for using false number plates on a vehicle – must now inform the police of the details of any vehicle he owns.

He is also now obliged to abide by the conditions that apply to people on the national Sex Offender Register, despite being convicted of no offence.

Samuel Watson, for Cumbria Constabulary, set out the background to the sexual risk order application, explaining that Faunch has been a suspect in a number of alleged exposure offences.

In 2011, the court heard, he was identified by a witness as the person who exposed himself to a 17-year-old girl near to Eden Bridge in Carlisle, though he was later acquitted of that offence.

The following year, he was suspected of exposing himself to a woman outside her home in Barrow, which he denied. Again, there was no conviction.

The court also heard about two further incidents in north Cumbria, which led to Faunch being charged with voyeurism – a charge that went to a trial at Carlisle Crown Court and ended with the judge declaring him not guilty.

A police officer told the District Judge that the alleged crimes at the heart of the application all involved an offender being partially or completely undressed, except for a face covering.

Mr Watson said that the sexual risk order was necessary, pointing out that the link between the various allegations was that the suspect wore a balaclava or a snood, with police having seized five such face coverings from Faunch.

In the alleged voyeurism case, the suspect wore a balaclava or a snood.

Referring to an incident in August of last year, Mr Watsons said: “This was an occasion when he was arrested for driving offences and subsequently convicted; there were false number plates [on his vehicle].

“Also in the vehicle was a black woollen hat, a neck warmer, rubber gloves, and a small head torch.” The barrister spoke also of “other occasions” in May when a man was seen in north Cumbria walking while completely naked but for a balaclava.

A naked man was also seen running across a field near to Faunch’s home. On may 23, two days after that incident, a black face covering was found in his vehicle. Faunch denied making a comment to the police about “naked rambling.”

“So there are clear instances where sexual harm as occurred and the offending involves the wearing of a black balaclava or face covering,” said Mr Watson.

Defence lawyer Tariq Khawam said Faunch had been convicted of no offence and that the restrictions included in the proposed order were neither necessary or enforceable. He also said the identification of Faunch by witnesses was “questionable.”

Referring to the Barrow allegation, Mr Khawam again suggested the evidence against Faunch was “inaccurate or equivocal,” saying that on the day in question his client had been at Newby Bridge, 18 miles from Barrow.

Giving his ruling, District Judge John Temperley commented that the threshold of proof for making the interim order was lower than that for a full order – a decision that would be made on the balance or probabilities.

The judge said: “What I can say, on the evidence I have read and heard, is that Mr Faunch has been and continues to be suspected of having committed a number of offences of a sexual nature over a lengthy period of time.”

He summarised the various allegations, including the alleged voyeurism in 2022 where a man was allegedly seen looking through the windows of a house, including on an occasion when one of the occupants was topless.

The suspect wore a balaclava. Bearing in mind the number of incidents and their similarities, District Judge Temperley said he was satisfied it was just to make the interim sexual risk order. “I make no specific findings,” said the judge of the alleged facts.

The order does not prevent Faunch from owning vehicles or face coverings, provided he declares the details to the police.

The interim sexual risk order imposed on Faunch forbids him from: 

* Wearing any type of mask or face covering in a public place or a private place not owned by him, or while in a vehicle in a public place.

* Possessing or acquiring, or any kind of mask or face covering while in a public  place, or in a vehicle in a public place this has been registered at a police station within three days.

* Going on to any private land, or building unless he has the permission of the owner.

* Exposing intimate parts of his body where other people can see this other than in a public lavatory for the intended purpose.

* Or denying any police officer access to his property or vehicle when his compliance with the interim order is being checked.

Faunch is obliged to inform the police of within three days of the make, model, colour and registration number of any vehicle he drives or owns.

A hearing will be heard within the next few months to decide whether or not the sexual risk order will be fully approved by the court. 

The Westmorland Gazette | News