Lawyer Says Royal Intruder Wanted to Protest Unemployment
LONDON (AP) _ A man accused of attacking police when he was found in the garden of Kensington Palace was only protesting Britain’s unemployment rate and never intended to harm the royal family, his lawyer said Thursday.
Bela Mark Stifter, bearing cuts and bruises on his face and hand, appeared in court on charges he was equipped for theft and caused bodily harm to two officers with the Royalty and Diplomatic Protection Group at Kensington Palace, where Prince Charles and Princess Diana live.
Police said officers tackled and handcuffed Stifter, 27, who was armed with a knife and a hammer, at 1 a.m. Wednesday before he could breach a wall around the 17th-century, red-brick palace.
Both officers, Mark Moraviec and Christopher Durward-Akhurst, suffered minor injuries and did not appear in court.
Charles and Diana and their two sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, were sleeping in the palace when the incident occurred. The couple began an official visit to Portugal later in the day.
Horseferry Road magistrate Charles Davidson ordered Stifter held until his next court appearance on Feb. 19 and asked for a medical report on him.
Defense lawyer Stephen Dawson said Stifter told police that ″at no time did he intend to do harm to any person in the palace.″
He said Stifter, who is unemployed and lives in Reading, west of London, told police he attempted to enter the palace as a protest against unemployment in Britain, which has more than doubled to 3.1 million since Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in 1979.
Prosecutor Stephen Swann said Stifter was admitted last month to an institution for the mentally ill and released after three days.
Kensington Palace, in the fashionable Kensington district near Hyde Park, has been a London home for royalty since the mid-18th century.
Buckingham Palace said Princess Michael of Kent and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester also were in their apartments at Kensington palace early Wednesday.
Queen Elizabeth II’s sister, Princess Margaret, also lives at Kensington Palace but is vacationing on the Caribbean island of Mustique.
Security for the royal family was overhauled after unemployed drifter Michael Fagin climbed a drainpipe at Buckingham Palace in 1982 to reach the queen’s private suite, where he sat on her bed and talked to her for 10 minutes.
Earlier this month, a man scaled 15-foot high gates to get into the queen’s estate at Sandringham in eastern England while she was there. He was arrested in the estate grounds.