'Somerset Gimp' who terrified female drivers and was banned from writhing around on the ground unmasked

27 October 2023, 18:01 | Updated: 27 October 2023, 19:49

Avon and Somerset police have released images of Hunt's notorious outfit.
Avon and Somerset police have released images of Hunt's notorious outfit. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

The Somerset Gimp has been unmasked as 32-year-old Joshua Hunt, whilst images of his all-black outfit have been released.

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Hunt has been found guilty on two counts of intentional harassment, alarm or distress.

Bristol Magistrates Court heard how female motorists driving home late at night were left terrified after seeing a man dressed in a black gimp suit.

Hunt, 32 was fined £100 and ordered to pay £200 compensation to each of his three victims and £620 prosecution costs.

Now, Avon and Somerset Police have released images of Hunt's outfit that he wore when terrifying his victims.

One image shows a collection of four masks, made from tights, with each having holes cut out for eyes.

Four of the Gimp's masks.
Four of the Gimp's masks. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

The face coverings are also adorned with white paint highlighting the holes as well as a crudely drawn smile.

Another image shows Hunt's outfit he wore when "writhing" on the ground, although the now-identified Somerset Gimp says he was "mudding".

His outfit is made up of skintight black trousers, a long-sleeved black top and a pair of black socks.

When he was arrested on 9 May, Police found a pile of wet, black clothes, women's tights and white paint in his van.

After the case, Police Chief Inspector Jonny Murray, policing commander for North Somerset said: "The masks worn by Joshua Hunt, which were made out of tights and had faces drawn on them, terrified the people he jumped out on. His actions were alarming and caused others to genuinely fear for their safety.

"We took all the reports we received about this behaviour extremely seriously. High visibility patrols were regularly carried out by neighbourhood officers while a senior detective was put in charge of reviewing all the incidents reported to us.

Hunt told the court that he wore the outfit to go "mudding".
Hunt told the court that he wore the outfit to go "mudding". Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

"As soon as we received the call on May 9 we dispatched officers and they arrived at the scene within three minutes. This meant we were able to secure the evidence needed to charge Hunt with the offences he has now been convicted of."

Police have now asked magistrates to make Hunt subject to a Sexual Risk Order over concerns his actions had a sexual motivation behind them.

The civil order has been granted on an interim basis with another hearing to take place on 3 November.

Bristol Magistrates Court was told how the incidents occurred in the evening on 7 May and just past midnight on 9 May 2023 in Bleadon, near Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Hunt was arrested after the second incident and told police: "I am not a gimp - I do not own a gimp suit. I am not in a gimp suit."

The defendant told the court that he had serious mental health issues and did not intend to cause harm to others.

During the trial, the court heard how Hunt was seen writing on the ground by a lone female driver, whilst another was left shaking and crying by the incident.

Motorist Lucy told of the ordeal in a written statement, detailing how she was driving home along Accommodation Road in Bleadon when she saw something moving on the ground.

"He was writhing and crawling as if in a military fashion," she said.

"I could see the person was wearing very tight, dark clothing and had a mask on their face. The mask was dark and very tight and two white crosses where the eyes should be.

"My first thought was it could be a possible abduction and the person was trying to get me out of my car.

"It was terrifying although I had only seen them for a few seconds.

"He was dressed all in black with a shiny, black facemask with white crosses on. They were face down in a military fashion and writhing and crawling on their belly."

Hunt spoke about his mental health issues during the trial.
Hunt spoke about his mental health issues during the trial. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

Read more: 'Somerset Gimp' found guilty of leaping out at terrified women drivers and 'writhing on ground' late at night

She added: "The whole incident felt so surreal, and I was questioning myself about what I was seeing and making this statement makes me feel anxious.

"I genuinely believed it was an abduction because you read about this in the newspapers. When I got home I was breathing heavily and I was having a borderline panic attack.

"I had never seen anything like this before. I feel scared and I never want to see this thing again due to the fright it gave me.

"I didn't sleep more than three hours that night."

Martin Mills was riding in a car when he saw a man "commando crawling" on the floor.

"I can see they were all in black and shiny and the car lights were reflecting off him," he said.

Read more: Man accused of being Somerset gimp banned by court from wearing masks or wriggling on floor ahead of October trial

Read more: Man arrested after multiple 'gimp' sightings in Somerset

A day later on 9 May, Samantha Brown was driving home from work with her sister-in-law and another colleague when she saw a man dressed in black wearing a facemark.

In a statement, she described feeling "sheer horror".

"When I saw them my sister-in-law screamed. I had to speed up to get past them and he jumped to the side of my car," she said in a statement.

"When I saw the person I felt sheer horror. When I got home I was shaking and crying. I was scared by this person - anything could have happened and they had their hands behind their back and they could have been holding anything."

Ms Brown's sister-in-law, Chloe Smith said: "I was scared by what he was doing because it was dark and they were dressed like that."

The teenager in the car said when he saw the man he grabbed the door handle in case he tried to open the door.

"I was angry that he scared Samantha and Chloe," he said.

After the second incident, police arrived at Bleadon and spotted a white Berlingo van in a field, which was reversing, and decided to stop it.

PC Declan Coppock arrested the defendant, who was wearing grey trousers and a black hooded top.

Whilst being arrested, Hunt denied being the Somerset Gimp.

In court, the officer said: "I noticed his [Hunt's] skin was extremely wet and damp - suggesting he had been lying on the side of the road".

"I am not dangerous, I am a normal person, I have got a few problems", Hunt said during his arrest
"I am not dangerous, I am a normal person, I have got a few problems", Hunt said during his arrest. Picture: Social media
The masks are made from women's tights.
The masks are made from women's tights. Picture: Avon and Somerset Police

Hunt told the police: "I am not dangerous, I am a normal person, I have got a few problems."

A search found that Hunt was not wearing a T-shirt or underwear.

Found in his van were wet black clothing, women's tights, face masks and gloves.

White neon paint used for drawing on a mask was also found, the court heard.

Hunt told police during an interview that his mental health had been in "crisis" over problems with his medication and wanted to take his own life, the court heard.

"I stood in the road because I wanted to kill myself and I never intended to scare anybody. I am crying out for help and need help with my mental health", he said.

The court heard that during a search of Hunt's home in Claverham, officers found a journal in which he had written a story about someone called Jack who purchases a black rubber suit and mask with white paint on the mask.

"The face was looking like something out of a horror film - a face that would scare the life out of anyone", Hunt wrote.

There had been some photos circulating thought to be Hunt but it has now been revealed they do not picture the gardener and are instead thought to be gimp-suited people.

One image shows a man standing in a black gimp suit in Somerset and in the second an unknown man, also dressed in all black, is seemingly wriggling on the ground.

This image of a gimp in Somerset was previously thought to be Hunt, but it has been revealed it is not
This image of a gimp in Somerset was previously thought to be Hunt, but it has been revealed it is not. Picture: Social media
This photo was thought to be Hunt, but this has now been debunked.
This photo was thought to be Hunt, but this has now been debunked. Picture: Handout

Hunt had also done internet searches in 2022 and 2023 about the "Somerset Gimp" and the "Gimp of Cleeve", the court heard.

Giving evidence, Hunt told the court he was in a "very traumatic state of mind" in May 2023 and was speaking with the Samaritans and getting counselling.

"I hated myself with the way I looked and the way I am and everything about me," he told the court, fighting back tears.

He explained he would go out at night and change into black clothing to go "mudding", explaining the term to court.

"A lot of people wouldn't understand, which is something I do to get covered in mud which is another reason I was there as it is close to the estuary where there is mud."

"The clothes I wear and face masks are for mudding only, hence why I had them in the vehicle", he added

"Time from time, it is a self-loathing thing because I feel so crap about myself. It's a release because I feel like s**t - I cover myself in s**t."

Hunt told the court on the two nights he had been seen on the side of the road he had wanted to kill himself by being hit by a car.

"It never entered my head that what I was doing was frightening people", he said.

"I apologise to those people - I agree what I was doing was frightening but hand on my heart I never intended to cause them harassment, alarm or distress."

Under cross-examination from Robert Yates, prosecuting, Hunt described how he would go mudding at the estuary.

"It is a public place but it is discreet - I only go mudding in discreet locations", he said.

Mr Yates asked: "You live on a farm, there are fields - private land - the public wouldn't be there. So why not go mudding there?"

Hunt replied: "It's not a case of reasons why I don't do it at the farm."

Mr Yates asked: "I am going to suggest that the reason you went to Accommodation Road was that you wanted to be seen and shock people?"

Hunt replied: "No it wasn't."

Mr Yates asked: "You go mudding because you want people to see you?"

Hunt replied: "I don't agree. All mudding I have done has been done discreetly."

District Judge Joanna Dickens said: "I accept that you have already received punishment and spent time in prison and lost your good character in a very public way and no doubt affecting you for the remainder of your life."

Prior to the trial, Hunt was ordered to not "crawl, wriggle or writhe on the ground wearing a full-body covering or mask" where the offences took place.

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