Convict Teen Wins Legal Battle Over 'Humiliating' Jacket

A convicted teenager in Britain who refused to wear a high visibility jacket labeled "Community Payback" was told by a court Tuesday that he had a "reasonable excuse."

Kane Beales, 19, had been accused of breaching his sentence by saying he would not wear the clothing.

He had been given a suspended sentence with an unpaid work requirement for possessing a knuckleduster, a flick knife and an offense of drinking excessive alcohol in September.

But the court heard Beales, of Caister, Norfolk, had refused to wear the garment after arguing it would lead to “humiliation and embarrassment."

“It advertises that you have done something wrong and you don’t want the whole world to know,” he told the court during his trial last month.

Tuesday at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court District Judge Philip Browning said: “The requirement to wear the marked vest was introduced and imposed some three months after the defendant signed his agreement, which did not include such a requirement, which in itself was an important and significant change.

“There is no evidence that the defendant was informed of the new requirement before he attended for work.”

After being sentenced, Beales had signed an agreement which did not include the requirement to wear the jackets, the court heard.

The government introduced the “Community Payback” jackets three months later, in December, to boost public confidence in community sentences.

Beales had denied breaching his order by failing to wear the item of clothing on Feb. 18 when asked to carry out work in a churchyard in Norfolk.

Browning said: “I am satisfied that... the defendant in this case did have a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the unpaid work requirement of his suspended sentence order.”

But Browning said his ruling did not cover the wider issue of whether criminals can be forced to wear the jackets.

“I do not feel it necessary in the context of this case to decide that issue,” he said. “I consider that such a decision will require more detailed argument and consideration than has been possible in this case. Those arguments may include matters of human rights.”

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.