Court bans actor from Pentameters Theatre after ‘harassment campaign’
Easter 1916 performer says he will appeal because judge's verdict was 'railroaded through'
01 June, 2017 — By William McLennan
The cast of the Easter 1916 production, including Michael McClare (back row, third from left)
AN actor has been handed a restraining order preventing him from entering a Hampstead theatre after he was convicted of harassing the owner in a dispute over pay. Michael McCarthy, 63, carried out a “campaign” of harassment, including abusive tirades littered with four-letter expletives, against Pentameters Theatre owner Léonie Scott-Matthews,
Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday. Mr McCarthy, who performs under the stage name Michael McClare, felt that Ms Scott-Matthews had “ripped off” the cast of Easter 1916, a production that focused on the bloody uprising in Dublin. Each actor received a £50 fee for the three-week run, but insisted they had been promised a share of the profits from ticket sales, the court heard.
In April 2016, Mr McCarthy began to pursue Ms Scott-Matthews and her partner Godfrey Old, demanding to be shown the theatre’s accounts.
The court heard that he phoned her up to six times a day for a week. Carina Suarez, for the prosecution, asked: “Do you not think that’s excessive? Would it not annoy you or upset you? I suggest the reason the phone was not answered is that you have been abusive on numerous occasions.” Mr McCarthy responded: “That is absolutely not true. As far as I was concerned my actions were not amountable to harassment.”
Presented with evidence that he had left abusive messages on the theatre’s Facebook page, including describing Ms Scott-Matthews as a “c**t” misspelt to begin with a “k”, Mr McCarthy said that he had intended the message to be sent to his ex-wife and was, in fact, a reference to the 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant. Mr McCarthy was handed a harassment notice by police at the end of May, preventing him from pursuing the couple, but tensions flared when he bumped into Ms Scott-Matthews at the Hampstead Summer Festival in July, the court heard.
Ms Scott-Matthews said that Mr McCarthy approached her waving a £5 note and demanding payment. She said: “He was towering over me. He was starting to shout at me.” Mr McCarthy was also convicted of assaulting Mr Old by kicking him in the leg during an argument in January this year.
Two schoolgirls who witnessed the assault gave evidence at the two-day hearing. One told the court: “The guy in the dark coat [Mr McCarthy] kicked the other guy. The guy with the long hair and hat [Mr Old] stood there passively. He called the long hair guy a c**t.” The witness told the court that she heard Mr McCarthy shout: “I’ll get you and your slag of a wife.”
Mr McCarthy denied kicking Mr Old and said he lashed out at him and missed after himself having been kicked in the knees. Convicting Mr McCarthy of assault and two counts of harassment, District Judge Nicholas Rimmer said: “I find that these two young girls are not mistaken in their evidence.”
However, addressing Mr Old’s account of the assault, that he had been kicked seven or eight times before falling over a bench, Judge Rimmer said: “I accept that there may be an element of exaggeration. It may be that it did not happen exactly as described.” He said that Mr McCarthy’s Kant story was a “sham”, adding: “I’m afraid it exposes you as a liar – and not a very good one.” He said that Mr McCarthy had displayed a “displeasing and inappropriate level of arrogance” while being questioned by police.
He added that by “huffing, sighing” and “laughing” he had not shown the “dignity” expected of someone on trial. District Judge Rimmer told Mr McCarthy to “watch your language” and threatened him with being taken into custody for contempt of court after he said he would be “appealing against this so-called verdict” which he felt had been “railroaded through”.
After hearing that Mr McCarthy received Employment Support Allowance and was not fit for unpaid work, he ordered him to serve a three-month curfew. He told Mr McCarthy: “You will remain indoors at your home address between the hours of 7pm and 7am to serve as punishment.” Mr McCarthy was also prohibited from contacting either victim, other than through a solicitor, or entering Oriel Place for 12 months.