Buckingham Palace Knife Man/Protester JailedBy: Emily Greene - January 15, 2014
Last October, a man wielding a knife tried to get onto the Buckingham Palace grounds. That man, 44-year-old David Belmar was trying to get to the Queen and discuss his recently discontinued state welfare.
Belmar had a six-inch knife and protested about his Incapacity Benefit being stopped in front of Buckingham Palace. He leaped over a vehicle barrier and was swiftly brought down when armed police officers rugby tackled him to the ground.
On Wednesday Belmar was jailed for 16 months for his actions in October.
His lawyer, Louise Culleton told Southwark Crown Court in central London, “This was a question of Mr. Belmar being upset at that decision to stop his Incapacity Benefit. He had become increasingly frustrated and desperate. He did not know how to address that problem or perhaps was not thinking clearly as to how to address that by the formal routes and therefore wanted to draw publicity to what had happened to him.”
Culleton added that her client, Mr. Belmar, said that he was “most remorseful” for his actions and that he acted “foolishly.”
In 2002 Belmar was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had been on regular anti-psychotics since then, but Judge Michael Gledhill QC said Belmar’s condition had “absolutely nothing to do” with his actions on October 14, 2013. He added that since 2002 Belmar had been in a “stable medical state.”
Prosecutor Peter Zinner said police noticed Belmar when he was “pacing up and down” behind a crowd of tourists. “Suddenly without any warning, the defendant ran through the crowd towards the gate and effectively hurdled the vehicle blocker into the Palace grounds. Although the police officers were alarmed by what was perceived to be a determined effort by the defendant to enter the Palace grounds it seemed that the officers reacted professionally and coolly, assessed the risk to themselves and other parties and managed to restrain the defendant and arrest him without the need to deploy firearms,” said Zinner.
The judge told Belmar, “I understand you believe you were being treated unfairly and that you were not being listened to and say you did not know what to do. Well, there are countless other people in exactly the same position following the relatively recent changes to the country’s benefit system. But they don’t all arm themselves with knives and go to Buckingham Palace intending to trespass within the grounds or enter the Palace themselves. That is why what you did could be described as a stunt.”
Judge Gledhill also added, “I am satisfied of course that you were suffering from a mental illness but that had absolutely nothing to do with these offences. You were determined to make a protest, you were determined to attract publicity to the grievance that you felt. You did everything to make sure the world would know what you had done.”
Although Belmar’s Incapacity Benefits were stopping, he was told he could seek employment and Job Seekers Allowance.