Mayor candidate Craig Clarke asked judge for private hearing on drugs charge
MAYORAL candidate Craig Clarke asked a judge to hear his drugs' charge case in private, it has emerged.
Yesterday Clarke, 39, of no fixed address, admitted smoking cannabis at Bristol Crown Court and also pleaded guilty to having 0.6 grams of the Class B drug at College Green on May 5.
It was revealed in court that Clarke, who represented himself, had e-mailed Judge Roach, asking that the hearing would not be witnessed by the press or public.
The Post was the only media organisation in court to hear the case.
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He was fined, which will not affect his ability to stand as a mayoral candidate.
A second charge of battery of a police officer was deleted, though Bristol Crown Court heard it could be proceeded with in another court.
Judge Michael Roach fined him £100, with £100 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, and told him: "Pay by December 3. If you don't pay by then it will be seven days' prison."
Clarke proclaimed he was a man of God.
The court heard he had no previous convictions.
Judge Roach told him: "I am in a position to hold this case. I am not in a position to hold it in secret. I have the power to inhibit the press where statutes provide. There is no statute here. The case will go on."
Oliver Willmott, prosecuting, said Clarke was found to have 0.6g of cannabis on College Green on May 5.
Mr Willmott said he wished to delete a charge of battery, concerning a policeman, as that could not be joined to the cannabis charge.
He said: "There could be proceedings in another court."
Clarke apologised to the court but said he didn't believe the police officer wished to bring the charge against him.
He told the judge: "I smoke marijuana. I work for myself. I'm a mayoral candidate. I'm a PCC candidate. My income is £7,000 a year and I am debt-free."
In September, Clarke appeared before magistrates who heard that, after being arrested during the protest at College Green, he was alleged to have assaulted a detention officer by pulling his tie.
At that hearing Clarke, who refused to give an address in court, denied both battery and cannabis possession and elected to stand trial before a jury.
At the crown court the maximum sentence for cannabis possession is five years' prison and custody would have jeopardised his chances of being mayor.
A city council spokesman said: "You can be disqualified if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment of three months or more, including a suspended sentence, without the option of a fine.
"This covers a period of five years prior to election."
In January, Clarke was the first person to declare himself a prospective mayoral candidate and is standing for the so-called State Educated Party.