A man suffering a mental health crisis was prosecuted under a law aimed at stopping disruptive demonstrations, York magistrates heard.

Wayne Allen was standing on a bridge over the York Outer Ring Road on 1am on October 31, said Lauren Fisher, prosecuting. He had been drinking.

Police closed both carriageways of the A64 because of his presence on Naburn Bridge close to the Fulford interchange.

He was shouting about the traffic, saying “they are not going anywhere, anywhere” and about his own intentions. Officers restrained him and arrested him.

He was later charged with an offence of causing a public nuisance under a law that came into effect in June 2022.

In the Commons debate introducing the Bill that created the offence, the then Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “In recent years, we have seen a significant change of protest tactics, with protesters exploiting gaps in the law which have led to disproportionate amounts of disruption.”

Defence solicitor Chris McGrogan told York Magistrates' Court of Allen’s case: “This clearly doesn’t fall into that category.

“He suffers from a number of mental health issues. He has been sectioned on a number of occasions.”

Allen had last been sectioned under the Mental Health Act in June.

On October 31, he had visited his sister’s grave and been “ overwhelmed” by the experience. He had telephoned the police for help and been told an ambulance was on the way to him, said Mr McGrogan.

“He waited and waited and the ambulance didn’t arrive. He took himself to the bridge over the A64,” said Mr McGrogan. “That is the background to this offence.”

Allen had never received counselling or other help in coping with his bereavement, said the defence solicitor.

Allen, 33, of Fourth Avenue, Tang Hall, pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance by obstructing the public or a section of the public in the exercise or enjoyment of a right that may be exercised or enjoyed by the public at large and intending or being reckless as to whether the obstruction would be caused.

The court heard the public right related to the ability to use the A64.

Magistrates adjourned sentence for a report by the probation service before passing sentence.

Allen admitted that his conviction for causing a public nuisance breaches a 12-month conditional discharge he was given in April for being drunk and disorderly. He will be sentenced on December 7.