The man pleaded not guilty to appearing at a picket in memory of Sarah Everard during isolation after the court overturned his previous sentence.
Evin Godin-Pryor, 68, is accused of participating in a gathering of more than two people in an open-air public space in Level 4 – Clapham Common, south London – on 13 March last year.
Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions prohibited household mixing, except for support bubbles, and two people meeting in outdoor public spaces.
Godin-Pryor, of Debdale, Manchester, was convicted in his absence under the single procedure of justice – a paper process not held in open court – in Westminster Magistrates’ Court on June 1, along with 27-year-old Dania Al-Obeid of Stratford. east London and 21 year old Ben Wheeler from Kennington, south London.
Each was ordered to pay a £220 fine, £100 in legal costs and an additional £34 in the same court a week later.
I ask you to open it again because I did not have the opportunity to answer my case.Kevin Godin-Pryor
But on Tuesday, Godin-Pryor appeared before Westminster Magistrates’ Court to make a statutory declaration, a way of challenging a magistrate’s sentence if it was passed without the defendant’s knowledge.
Ben Stuttard, defending, said: “The background to this case is that it is a prosecution stemming from Sarah Everard’s vigil on Clapham Common.
“Several people were prosecuted without knowing it, and they were convicted in absentia.”
Godin-Pryor, who spoke via video link as he self-isolated at home for Covid-related reasons, told the court he had “frequent delays” this year with his post, which meant he only received notice of his prosecution. 22nd of May. two days after the deadline allotted for him to respond.
The 68-year-old said he tried to contact the authorities to request an extension of the notice in order to respond, move the proceedings to a local court in Manchester due to his poor health and inform them that he intended to plead “not guilty”. but he said he received no reply.
Godin-Pryor said he then “heard from a news report” that he had been convicted and was due on June 9.
“I ask that it be opened again because I did not have the opportunity to respond to my case,” Godin-Pryor said.
Judge Dr. Lynn Gailey overturned the conviction before ruling that the case could be reopened and the trial could proceed.
She then gave Godin-Prior the opportunity to plead guilty, to which he replied, “Not guilty.”
Prosecutor Jan Gatland has asked the court to list Godin-Pryor for a November 14-16 trial along with Al Obeid.
On the prospect of others demanding that their sentences be overturned and the case reopened, Mr Stuttard added: “I understand that the prosecution intends to deal with all of them together.”
A case management hearing ahead of Godin-Pryor and Al Obeid’s trial has been scheduled for September 23 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Godin-Pryor was one of six people prosecuted by the Met following the March 13 event last year.
Jade Spence, 33, from Lambeth, south London, was convicted by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in her absence on 15 June and sentenced to a fine of £300, £110 in legal fees and £34 in additional payment to victims.
It is understood that both she and Wheeler can still apply to reopen their cases.
Vivien Hohmann, 20, from Clapham, and Jenny Edmunds, 32, from Lewisham, south London, pleaded not guilty by mail.
Hochmann will appear before the district judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 3 and 5 October.
Meanwhile, Edmunds will appear before the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 28, 31 October and 1 November.
A planned social distancing event proposed by Reclaim These Streets (RTS) was canceled when the Met threatened organizers with a £10,000 fine.
A spontaneous vigil was held that followed the kidnapping, rape and murder of 33-year-old Ms. Everard by P.K. Wayne Cousins, but the Met Police came under fire after the women were handcuffed on the ground and taken away by officers.
Of the nine fixed penalty notices issued, two were paid and one was canceled without further action.
The Met was twice denied leave to appeal a High Court ruling that concluded that the rights of the RTS organizers had been violated.
Cousins, 49, is serving a life sentence after confessing to the kidnapping, rape and murder of Ms Everard.