Monday 18 December 2017

Two guards jailed for kidnapping man who later died after being removed from music festival

Judge's gavel
Judge's gavel

Ben Kendall

Two security guards have been jailed for kidnapping a man who later died after they ejected him from a music festival.

George Maxwell, 33, and Brian Atkins, 49, joked they were taking their Australian victim - Paul Wickerson, 32 - on a "bush tucker trial" as they transported him from the Brownstock festival in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, on August 31 2013.

They handcuffed him, put him into a Land Rover, then left him confused and disorientated by the roadside, Essex Police said. He was found dead at 10.45pm - about 20 minutes after he had been dumped - after being hit by up to four cars.

The men were found guilty of kidnap following a two-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court. Maxwell was jailed for three years and Atkins was jailed for three years and nine months.

The court heard that geologist Mr Wickerson, who had been drinking and taken a small amount of cocaine and ketamine, had become unwell earlier in the night.

Friends looked after him, but lost contact with him at about 10pm. Maxwell and Atkins found him wondering the site and restrained him after becoming concerned about his behaviour.

Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said that during the brief journey, Atkins was heard to say that they were taking Mr Wickerson - who was wearing only a pair of shorts - for a "four-mile bush tucker trial" in a reference to the TV show I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, which is based in the Australian jungle.

Outside court, Detective Chief Inspector Simon Werrett, who led the investigation, said festival-goers should be protected by security staff.

He added: "People who attend festivals expect those responsible for the security to provide them with a safe environment to enjoy themselves.

"They do not expect them to manhandle them, to handcuff them and then dump them on a dangerous road. Mr Wickerson's death should not have happened.

"This verdict will send the clear message to those involved in the security for music festivals, that you will be held to account for your actions."

Mr Wickerson's parents, who live in Surrey, said he had returned to UK to visit them and to attend festivals with former college friends.

His mother, Maureen Wickerson, said: "Paul's charismatic nature, coupled with his very engaging and adventurous personality, made him many close friends around the world - many of whom were among the 200 people who joined family members at his funeral.

"His passion in life was the peace and absolute freedom of the mountains, snowboarding, and all that was related to his favourite pastime."

Press Association

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