A press photographer who breached cordons during last years foot and mouth outbreak has been sentenced by Guildford magistrates.
James Purkiss, 32 from Fareham, Surrey pleaded guilty at South West Surrey Magistrates Court this week to entering farmland which was suspected to be infected with foot and mouth disease early on August 4 last year. He received a 200 hour community order and was ordered to pay £1,500 in costs.
The court heard that Purkiss was ‘belligerent’ when approached by animal welfare officers, and initially refused to comply with their requests. He was forced to hand over his clothes and his camera equipment, which was quarantined for six months following the incident.
The photographer accepted that he was in the cordoned area, but said he had been unaware of this because he had not seen any quarantine signs. Matthew Pascall, prosecuting, told the court: “All public rights of way were clearly marked and there was a large police presence.”
Purkiss was found guilty last year of assaulting Heather Mills McCartney in a Brighton subway whilst working as a paparazzi under the alias Jay Kaycappa. He was sentenced to 140 hours of community service, and fined £1,150. He has since lodged an appeal.
The court heard that Purkiss had 132 previous convictions for dishonesty including 62 convictions for fraud, as well as others including theft, burglary, destruction of a will, perverting the course of justice, obtaining property by deception, driving offences and misuse of a computer to disseminate a bomb threat. It is understood that his past offences include at least three separate incidents when he attempted to impersonate a journalist.
Fellow defendant Philip Hollis was found guilty in February of the same offence whilst working for the Daily Telegraph. Hollis was fined a total of £7,000.