Man in Cheltenham jailed after 'abusive' and 'threatening' Halloween behaviour

John Maher, 41, breached an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction. Credit: Gloucestershire Police

A man has been jailed for becoming verbally abusive and threatening to Cheltenham Borough Council staff on Halloween.

John Maher, aged 41 and of no fixed abode, continued to use threatening behaviour towards people in the town despite an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction.

Maher’s injunction had forbidden him from causing harassment, alarm or distress to anyone in Cheltenham or threatening to use violence against them.

He was also banned from entering certain areas of the town.

He breached the order on 31 October, before making his way to the town centre.

He was arrested and appeared before the court, but was released when the case was adjourned for sentencing at a later date.

The following day, he was spotted by CCTV operators entering his exclusion area and was arrested again.

Maher appeared before Gloucester and Cheltenham County Court on 2 November where he was given a 12-week prison sentence. His ASBI was also extended until 2 June 2024.

In mitigation, Maher admitted the second breach but told the court he had been visiting his bank to collect a card.

The case against Maher was brought by Solace, a joint team of officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucester City Council who work in partnership to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Solace case officer Lisa Jones said: “Mr Maher has continually caused problems in both the town centre and St Pauls area of Cheltenham by being aggressive towards others, lighting fires, begging, leaving his belongings in doorways, littering when rough sleeping on public and private land and generally being extremely anti-social in nature. 

“He has been offered countless opportunities to address his behaviour and complex support needs, however, he did not engage to a full extent. Partner agencies have offered Mr Maher every possible pathway of support available, yet he has continued to cause harassment, alarm and distress to others.

“This sentence shows that Solace and our partners take the issue of anti-social behaviour seriously. I would like to thank the victims and members of public who have been affected by Mr Maher’s behaviour for their support and patience.”

Under the terms of his injunction, Maher is forbidden from:

  • Engaging in conduct which causes, or is capable of causing alarm, harassment or distress to anyone in Cheltenham, including Cheltenham General Hospital or Gloucester Royal Hospital.

  • Using or threatening to use violence against anyone in the boundary of Cheltenham.

  • Entering Cheltenham town centre, except to go to the Job Centre, or St Pauls at any time.

  • Begging or seeking alms from any member of public for money in a public place to which the public have access for payments or otherwise, this includes holding out any item or leaving any item in front of you which gives the impression to any reasonable person that he is asking for money in Cheltenham.

The court further ordered that Maher must:

  • Attend and engage with Change Grow Live at l east once a week to take steps to address manage and control his drug and alcohol dependency.

  • Engage with Cheltenham Borough Council’s housing options team, in a meaningful way to address his housing need.

If you are concerned about a person who is sleeping rough, you can report it to Streetlink.

This will go directly to an outreach team who will then go out to see that person and assess their needs.