A legless skateboarder who played ‘high pitched screeching’ music on his flute was banned from central London
Viorel Dinu, 23, was arrested after police officers were alerted to a ‘high pitched screeching’ sound coming from outside John Lewis in Oxford Street, central London.
They found the Romanian double amputee on his skateboard playing his instrument with about £150 in cash takings.
Dinu was charged under a 173-year-old law with using a ‘noisy instrument’ in a public place for the purpose of obtaining money.
But Dinu insists it was his disability rather than his playing that was upsetting people.
Louisa Ricottini, defending, said: ‘My parents used to think that The Beatles were making a screeching noise.
‘It is a matter of opinion what screeching is.’
Dinu, who has lived in the UK for 10 months, lost his legs in an accident when he was child, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.
‘On July 19 at about 3.45pm the defendant was outside John Lewis in Oxford Street playing a recorder type instrument which makes a high pitched screeching noise,’ said prosecutor Senghin Kong.
‘The defendant was placing himself in a prominent place blocking the flow of pedestrians on the pavement and the pedestrians were seen to be recoiling from him.
‘He shouldn’t have been in the place where he was blocking the flow on a busy street.’
Ms Ricottini said people were not moving away from him because of the noise he was making but because he was ‘somebody who was using the skateboard as his feet’.
Although police referred to the instrument as a recorder Dinu refers to it as a flute, the court heard.
Dinu, who travelled from his home in Nottingham to busk on the streets of London, has previous convictions for begging outside Selfridges and Gap, also on Oxford Street.
‘Is that causing alarm and distress?’ she said.
District Judge Justin Barron told Dinu, who wheeled himself into court on his skateboard: ‘There are very significant problems from begging in this area in London because so many people are doing it.
‘There is no doubt that it is a big problem. What the prosecution are saying to me is that you are a problem.
‘It is clear to me that the way that you beg whether it is playing your recorder or whatever does cause harassment.
‘I do not accept that this was to do with your disability or being on a skateboard but that they were just being harassed by your behaviour.
‘It seems to me that there is pretty good evidence that you are living on the proceeds of begging and busking.
‘You are probably making good income from begging and busking.
‘I think you had £150 on you that day, that is more than most members of the public would have on them,’ he added.
The Romanian was handed an ASBO banning him from entering the City of Westminster for two years.
He was also fined £35, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15 and prosecution costs of £85.
Dinu, of Noel Street, Nottingham, admitted using a noisy instrument in a public place for the purpose of obtaining money, under the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.