Burly Stroud man on trial for wearing bright pink dress and blonde wig
A MAN was shocked to see his burly neighbour in the street wearing a bright pink dress and waist-length blonde wig, a court heard today.
Dressed as a woman, 6ft 3" David Harris was standing near his car, which had an array of bras hanging from the roof bars and mirrors, Gloucester crown court was told.
Prosecutor Sarah Regan told the jury that heavily built Harris is not allowed to wear female clothing in public at night under the terms of a sexual offences prevention order imposed on him in 2004.
But Harris, 45, of Hilltop close, Stroud, Glos, denies that he was out in the dress and wig on the night of June 23 last year - as neighbour Mark Clarke alleges.
He plead not guilty to breaching the order which bans him from wearing female clothing, footwear or accessories at night.
Mrs Regan said it was 3.30am when Mr Clarke was walking home to Hilltop close and saw Harris standing outside his kitchen window.
"Mr Harris was wearing a knee length pink dress and a long blonde wig," she said.
"Mr Clarke shouted at him and Mr Harris ran off towards his car.
"Mr Clarke gave chase after him and as he got close to his car he saw that the car had various things hanging from the roof bars.
"Closer inspection revealed this to be a number of womens' bras.
"Mrs Regan said Mr Clarke then went towards Harris' flat and saw that his rotary washing line had bras hanging on it.
"Mr Clarke went to speak to a neighbour about what he had seen. He then went to Mr Harris' front door and knocked on it.
"Mr Harris opened the door wearing jeans and a top. He was also completely bald - the blonde waist-length wig having been removed.
"Mr Clarke challenged him and asked him what he was playing at. Importantly, Mr Harris replied 'I haven't been out' and he shut the door."
Mrs Regan said Mr Clarke told a woman neighbour what he had seen and she asked him to write down what happened on a social diary sheet.
It was not till late in July that Mr Clarke contacted police and told them what he had seen, she said.
Harris was arrested on July 30 and denied that he had been out at all that night - or that he had ever been out dressed as a woman, either in the day or at night.
He claimed to police that Mr Clarke had made the allegation as part of a campaign by neighbours who had ganged up against him and wanted him to leave.
He told police he did own a pink dress but it had only arrived in late July. He said he had only tried it on but never worn it.
Officers found the dress hanging up drying in his front room. He said he always washed new garments before wearing them.
"Police also found a long blonde wig, a blonde curly wig, a notebook and a folder," Mrs Regan said.
"The notebook was used quite meticulously by him to record any purchases he had made.
"It contained an entry about a 'so fabulous' dress which matched the one in his home. It also had a picture of the dress cut out from a catalogue and a note of the catalogue number, size and price.
"That picture had a handwritten note below it confirming that the dress had been ordered on June 16 and was received by Mr Harris on June 20."
Harris insisted to police at a later interview, however, that he had not worn the dress outside the flat and that he would have been in bed at 3.30am.
He said he had only worn a dress and wig in his home.
Police checked with the local council tenants department to see if Harris had ever complained about his neighbours bullying him, said Mrs Regan.
But the only complaints he had made were about the noise of neighbour's dogs and music.
Mrs Regan told the jury "Some of you may be thinking that Mr Harris wearing a lady's dress and a blonde wig may be rather odd but is not an offence. That would be right in normal circumstances . But not for Mr Harris - he is prohibited from wearing female clothing, footwear or accessories in a public place between 9pm-6am in summer and 6pm-7am in winter time."
In evidence, Mr Clarke said that when he saw Harris in the dress and wig he was 'very startled and surprised to see him like that.
He went on: "I was very shocked. I shouted out to him asking him what he was doing.
"He is a very big chap. At the time he had his head shaved and was clean shaven but I could clearly see him in the wig and dress. It was so bizarre.
"To see someone stood there with a red dress on and a long blonde wig of his size and stature was odd."
He said he was equally surprised to see several bras hanging from the roofbars and wing mirrors of Harris' black Fiat Uno.
Paul Trotman, defending, asked Mr Clarke if it was true there was a 'general feeling among neighbours that you would like Mr Harris out of the area?' Mr Clarke said it was, adding 'my neighbours are very worried about his presence there.'
Asked if that feeling had prevailed for a long time Mr Clarke said he was not sure but he knew that people were 'very worried' about seeing Harris out and about in female clothing.
"Other people have seen him out like that and they are not happy or comfortable about it. Lots of neighbours are quite frightened.
"I think people were tolerant of him when he was behaving himself."
He denied that there was any campaign to get Mr Harris removed from the area.
The trial continues.