A drunken Irish lorry driver who scaled an 8ft-high gate to get into the grounds of Windsor castle was so drunk he thought he was getting out of the Royal residence, not in, when he climbed the barrier.
A prosecutor told a court this morning that Robert Pennefather, 32, from Ireland, was stopped by a police officer who saw him staggering in the direction of the castle and asked to see his security pass.
Pennefather replied “What pass”. The officer asked if he was trespassing and he replied: “Yes I should not be here”.
Pennefather was today given a 14-day prison sentence suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to a single charge at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning. Pennefather came within 20 metres of Queen Elizabeth’s private apartments but chief magistrate Howard Riddle said he was satisfied that he posed no risk to anyone and had no intention of actually entering the castle.
Queen Elizabeth was not in residence at the time.
The magistrate said: “This is a very serious matter, as you must indeed be aware. There was a significant breach of security. It must have caused very significant alarm and distress to those in the castle and those whose job it is to protect those who live in the castle. It was not only alarming, it of course caused a deployment of police officers to deal with you when they could have been used in another way.”
The court heard that Pennefather had been out drinking with two colleagues since 9pm the evening before in nearby Colnbrook before getting a taxi to Windsor, where they had gone to a couple of nightclubs. At 3.34am police on duty at the castle spotted him on CCTV cameras inside the grounds, “staggering” around along Cambridge Drive, around 150 yards from an entrance named Cambridge Gate.
Along with the suspended sentence, Pennefather, of Cois Na Habhainn, Mullinahone, Co Tipperary, was banned from entering any pubs in the UK for 12 months, fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £85 in costs.