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Man who exposed himself in school playground appears in court

Magistrates hear man who chased woman home is schizophrenic plagued by voices in his head

John Garvey

Reporter:

John Garvey

Court

A MAN who exposed himself to two women in a school playground before chasing one of them all the way home is a schizophrenic plagued by voices in his head.

At a previous hearing, Edward John Chandler of Whitegates, Wickham, denied he was the man who propositioned the terrified victims at Welford and Wickham Primary School on July 28 last year – claiming it was a case of mistaken identity.

But Reading magistrates rejected his account and convicted him after hearing how the women had instantly recognised his “creepy eyes” and picked him out in an identity parade.

The 22-year-old had pleaded not guilty to the one charge of intentionally exposing himself on playing fields.

During the two-day trial, one of the women said she and a friend had left the Five Bells pub and cut through the playing fields on their way home when a man began following them.

He then propositioned them in foul language while pulling out his penis.

Both women fled, with Chandler running after them, and one terrified victim said he chased her all the way to her home.

The woman said that, when she reached her home and saw he was still running after her, she warned him that she had a big, aggressive dog inside and he ran off.

On Thursday last week the former Newbury College student and butcher’s assistant appeared at the same court for a sentencing hearing.

Michael Phillips, representing Mr Chandler, said his client had just one previous conviction, the nature of which was not revealed in open court.

He said: “This is a young man with a number of mental health problems, which are spoken of in the pre-sentence reports.

“The diagnosis he has at the moment is schizophrenia.

“He hears a number of voices every half hour which tell him to do things.

“He previously worked at a butcher’s and had other jobs, but he is now on ESA [Employment and Support Allowance for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability].”

He added: “A custodial sentence would be very detrimental to his mental health.

“This young man needs a lot of support.”

The court heard that the crown had considered asking the court for a  restraining order preventing Mr Chandler from contacting either of his victims, who live in the same village.

But Mr Phillips pointed out that the proper procedure for this, which would have involved giving his client notice, had not been followed and therefore such an order could not be imposed.

After retiring to confer, magistrates made Mr Chandler subject to a 12-month community order with 35 days rehabilitation activity requirement.

He must also, under the terms of the Sex Offenders Register, notify police of any change of address or plans to travel abroad for the next five years.

Finally, Mr Chandler was ordered to pay £250 costs plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £85.

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