Court hears of Stroud cross-dresser David Harris’ alleged late night stroll
1:10pm Wednesday 23rd January 2013 in News
THE last thing Stroud resident Mark Clarke expected to see in the middle of the night was his burly neighbour in the street wearing a bright pink dress and a long blonde wig.
He was even more shocked to see six-foot-three David Harris, 45, standing next to his black Fiat Uno – which had an array of bras hanging from the roof bars and mirrors.
Gloucester Crown Court heard yesterday that Harris of Hilltop Close, Stroud, is banned from wearing female clothing, footwear or accessories in public under a sexual offences prevention order imposed in 2004.
He denies allegations he breached the order on the night of June 23 last year.
Prosecutor Sarah Regan told the court Mr Clarke was walking home at 3.30am when he saw Harris standing outside his kitchen window wearing a knee-length pink press and a long blonde wig.
“Mr Clarke shouted at him and Mr Harris ran off towards his car,” she said.
“Mr Clarke gave chase after him and as he got close to his car he saw that the car had various things hanging from the roof bars.
“Closer inspection revealed this to be a number of women’s bras.”
She said he walked towards Harris’ flat, where he saw a number of bras hanging on his washing line.
He went to talk to a neighbour about what he had seen and then knocked on Harris’ front door.
“Mr Harris opened the door wearing jeans and a top,” she said. “He was also completely bald – the blonde waist-length wig having been removed.”
She said when Mr Clarke challenged him he replied “I haven't been out” and shut the door.
Although a female neighbour had told him to write down what he had seen in a social diary, Mr Clarke did not tell police what he had seen until late July.
When Harris was arrested on July 30 he denied that he had been out that night and said he had never been outside dressed as a woman at any time of day.
He claimed Mr Clarke had made the allegations as part of a campaign by his neighbours to force him to move out and told police, while he did own a pink dress, he had only bought it in late July and had only tried it on but never worn it.
When officers found the dress hanging up drying in his front room he told them he always washed new clothes before wearing them.
Mrs Regan continued that police had also found two blonde wigs – one long and one curly – along with a notebook and a folder.
“The notebook was used quite meticulously by him to record any purchases he had made,” she said.
“It contained an entry about a “so fabulous” dress which matched the one in his home. It also had a picture of the dress cut out from a catalogue and a note of the catalogue number, size and price.
“That picture had a handwritten note below it confirming that the dress had been ordered on June 16 and was received by Mr Harris on June 20.”
At a later interview he insisted he had never worn the dress outside his flat and would have been in bed at 3.30am. He added he had only worn a dress and wig inside his home.
When police checked with local council tenants to see if Harris had ever made allegations of bullying against them before they found the only complaints he had made were about noise from dogs and music.
Addressing the jury, Mrs Regan said: “Some of you may be thinking that Mr Harris wearing a lady's dress and a blonde wig may be rather odd but is not an offence.
“That would be right in normal circumstances – but not for Mr Harris. He is prohibited from wearing female clothing, footwear or accessories in a public place between 9pm and 6am in summer and 6pm and 7am in winter time.”
Giving evidence, Mr Clarke In evidence, Mr Clarke said he was “very startled and surprised” to see Harris in the street in a dress.
“I was very shocked,” he said. “I shouted out to him asking him what he was doing.
“He is a very big chap. At the time he had his head shaved and was clean-shaven but I could clearly see him in the wig and dress. It was so bizarre.
“To see someone stood there with a red dress on and a long blonde wig of his size and stature was odd.”
When asked by Paul Trotman, defending, if it was true that residents in the area were keen to see Harris move away, Mr Clarke added: “My neighbours are very worried about his presence there.”
“Other people have seen him out like that and they are not happy or comfortable about it,” he said. “Lots of neighbours are quite frightened.
“I think people were tolerant of him when he was behaving himself.”
He denied that there was any campaign to get Mr Harris removed from the area.
The trial continues.