Monday, 24 Jun 2024

Drunk tourist who climbed into Buckingham Palace Royal Mews spared jail

A drunk American tourist has been spared jail after he climbed into the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace.

Awad Mustafa sparked a huge security alert in the early hours of September 16 when he broke into the King’s official residence.

The 25-year-old was on a 10-day trip in the UK when he committed the offence and was later arrested, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Filming himself on his mobile phone, Mustafa, a computer engineer for Apple, can be heard saying ‘the King is asleep’ before he was discovered hiding in the paddocks.

He was fined £1,000, pay a victim surcharge of £400 and costs of £85 but has avoided a custodial sentence having already spent seven weeks in cells.

He told the court it was a “stupid, drunken mistake”, which he committed at 1.25am.

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Defending, Antonia Gray told the court: “This is a 25-year-old man who behaved in an immature, reckless and foolish way. I hope you accept that this was drunken behaviour.

“He accepts that he caused a huge amount of concern. It was a great nuisance, no more than that.”

The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace is responsible for the King’s road travel arrangements and is home to the Gold State Coach, which has been used at every coronation since that of William IV. 

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The alarm was raised when someone saw Mustafa, who arrived in the UK on September 7, climbing along the wall.

Rhianne Neil, prosecuting, said: “On 16 September, just before 1.30am, a member of the public called the police stating they had seen a man climbing the wall on Grosvenor Road bordering The Royal Mews.

“The suspect was then seen inside the grounds and filming with a mobile phone. Officers attended the scene at around 2:30am and found the defendant hiding in the corner of the paddock with a horse.”

He was planning on travelling to Spain the following day, but this was cut short when was taken into custody.

Here he claimed he had climbed the wall to take photos and wanted to get a better angle but had fell and injured himself.

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Sentencing Mustafa, District Judge Daniel Sternberg said: “In the early hours of that day you climbed over a wall on Buckingham Palace Road. You were seen on CCTV filming using your mobile phone.

“Police officers arrived and found you hiding in one of the stables.”

On the videos found on his phone, he added: “You can be heard saying ‘the King is asleep’ [in one of the videos].

“You are a relatively young man of previous good character. By pleading guilty you have lost that good character. It seems that there was some planning involved on your part.

“The harm comes from breaching the confines of the Royal Palace. You made a very stupid, drunken mistake, and I am dealing with you on that basis.

“You need to understand that if there is any repetition of this behavior on your part it is extremely unlikely that you would be dealt with in such a lenient way again. It is highly likely that you would face an immediate custodial sentence.”

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