Harold Hill security guard jailed for kidnapping festival-goer

Paul Wickerson. Picture: Essex Police

Paul Wickerson. Picture: Essex Police - Credit: Archant

Two security guards have been jailed today after they were found guilty of handcuffing and kidnapping a half naked festival-goer who later died after he walked into a road.

Paul Wickerson, a 32-year-old geologist who lived in Sydney, Australia, was struck by four cars after Gregory Maxwell, 33, of Masefield Crescent, Harold Hill, and Brian Atkins, 49, of Gordon Road, Ilford, ejected him from Brownstock Festival near South Woodham Ferrers.

Organisers had become concerned about his welfare because he had taken cocaine, LSD and ketamine, which a friend said had made him “out of control”.

Maxwell was jailed for three years and Atkins jailed for three years and nine months.

A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court heard Maxwell and Atkins had dumped the victim in a field “for sport” before he was killed on Lower Burnham Road, Cold Norton, on August 31 2013.


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Maxwell, head of security, and Atkins, found Mr Wickerson wandering the site at about 10.22pm.

They handcuffed him, out him in a Land Rover Discovery and drove him two miles from the festival ground and left him in the area of Lower Burnham Road.

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Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, said during the brief journey Atkins was heard to say they were taking Mr Wickerson on a “four mile bush tucker trial”.

Mr Wickerson, who was wearing only a pair of shorts, was found dead at about 10.45pm, having been struck by up to four cars in Lower Burnham Road, about 200 yards from the junction with Fambridge Road.

Atkins was also sentenced to a further six months, to run consecutively, for possessing a CS gas canister, which was found when his home was searched.

Det Chief Insp Simon Werrett, who led the investigation, said after the trial: “People who attend festivals expect those responsible for the security to provide them with a safe environment to enjoy themselves.

“They do not expect them to manhandle them, to handcuff them and then dump them on a dangerous road.

“Mr Wickerson’s death should not have happened.”

Mr Wickerson’s parents, who live in Surrey, said he had returned to UK to visit them and to attend festivals with former college friends.

Maureen Wickerson, his mother, said: “Paul graduated with a geology Honours degree from Edinburgh University before completing a Masters at Imperial College, London.

“He then joined a petroleum company in Norway and was involved in oil exploration.

“In 2012 he moved to Sydney to work as a development geologist and he was later joined by his girlfriend Sarah who moved from London to be with him.

“Paul’s charismatic nature coupled with his very engaging and adventurous personality made him many close friends around the world, many of whom were among the 200 people who joined family members at his funeral.

“His passion in life was the peace and absolute freedom of the mountains, snowboarding, and all that was related to his favourite pastime.”

A donation page was set up in tribute to Mr Wickerson and can be found at ski4cancer.org/paul-james-wickerson-fund

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