Hastings man loses appeal against order banning him from Robertsbridge

Court SUS-171124-115241001
Court SUS-171124-115241001

A mentally-ill man today lost an appeal against an order banning him from the East Sussex town where he said he had planned a “Dunblane-style massacre”.

Zachary Dunning, 20, was detained in a mental hospital after he was convicted of three counts of making death threats at Woolwich Court in September 2016.

Dunning had told psychiatrists and a therapist that he “fantasised” about carrying out the mass murder of schoolchildren in Robertsbridge.

But when police raided his home, they discovered he had conducted Internet searches concerning how to buy guns on the dark web.

He had “extensively researched” the diary of one of the Columbine killers and had tools including bolt cutters, a crowbar and ear defenders.

Autistic Dunning, of Athelstan Road, Hastings, had made specific threats against a school in the town.

As well as the hospital order, under which he will be detained indefinitely, an Old Bailey judge also imposed a serious crime prevention order last September.

The order, which starts the day he is released, will restrict his access to the Robertsbridge area and put strict limits on his Internet use.

Dunning today appealed, claiming that the order was unnecessary, because it would not protect the public from him.

He will only ever be freed if experts are convinced he is not dangerous and so the order is pointless, his lawyers told three Court of Appeal judges.

However, the prosecution said the order did provide some protection to the public as it would give police the power to arrest him for any breaches.

Mentally-ill prisoners like Dunning commonly relapse and so the extra protection for the public would be of use, the judges were told.

And it could even help Dunning himself, because it would provide him with “clear and sensible boundaries”.

Dismissing his appeal, Mr Justice Phillips said: “The judge was entitled to conclude that there were reasonable grounds for believing it would protect the public.

“The risks posed by Zachary Dunning were so serious that the order made was plainly reasonable and proportionate.

“We do not consider it is arguable that its imposition was wrong in principle or manifestly excessive.

“The application is refused.”