Councillor speaks out about abuse as attacker is convicted

Tim Adams, one of the co-ordinators of Cromer Cares community group.

Tim Adams, one of the co-ordinators of Cromer Cares community group. - Credit: Tim Adams

A Norfolk councillor who was struck by a former election candidate at a hustings' event has spoken out about the scale of abuse he faces in public life.

Tim Adams, a Cromer town, district and county councillor for the Liberal Democrats, made his comments as Steven De La Salle was convicted of harassment and assault following the drama in November last year.

De La Salle, 39, of Pine Grove, Sheringham, appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates' Court on Tuesday (November 24) to face two charges; one of assault by beating of Mr Adams, and one of using threatening, abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress relating to the same incident at Stalham Baptist Church.

The north Norfolk hustings at Stalham

Steven De La Salle was convicted of harassment and assault at this hustings event at Stalham Baptist Church in November 2019 - Credit: Stuart Anderson

He admitted the public order charge but denied striking Mr Adams.

Magistrates, however, found him guilty of striking Mr Adams and ordered him to pay £300 in fines and costs.

During the proceedings, as his solicitor outlined the case for mitigation, he stormed out but was brought back in by the court ushers.

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Leaving the dock for a second time he said he had been “stitched up” and that the case should have been decided by a jury.

His father, sitting in the public gallery, apologised for his son’s behaviour and offered to pay, but was told a payment system was in place.

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After the hearing Mr Adams described events in the courtroom as “quite heated.”

He said he was happy with the outcome which was “proportionate” but threats and harassment were an increasing hazard of being in public life.

“Unfortunately in my job it is not the first time I have been assaulted, harassed, and abused.

“It has happened quite a number of times over the last 10 years.

“Unfortunately the person did make threats so it had to be dealt with.”

Mr Adams said he had gone to the hustings as an observer and had tried to intervene as De La Salle repeatedly interrupted the parliamentary candidates.

“Heckling is normal, but there is a line,” he said.

“He wasn’t allowing anyone to speak. He wasn’t quietening down and was asked to leave.

“I had gone in to check if there was anything I could do to help and as soon as I walked in the door he hit me.”

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