‘King of Everland’ faces up to two years in prison

A MAN who claims to be ‘The King of Everland’ was convicted yesterday of five offences under the Land Planning and Development Law and now faces up to two years in jail.

Steve Ogier, 48, going into court. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29144978)
Steve Ogier, 48, going into court. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 29144978)

Steve Terrence Ogier, 48, was found guilty in the Royal Court of failing to carry out measures required by compliance notices served on him in respect of land he owns at Ruette du Frocq, Castel. All decisions were unanimous.

In May 2019 he declared independence on the land.

He has argued consistently that it is an independent state and therefore not covered under Guernsey law.

The Royal Court has previously ruled to the contrary.

Mr Ogier told the trial that he was ‘Steve the living man’ and said members should not get confused with what was on his birth certificate.

Most cases of this type are heard in the Magistrate’s Court but he elected trial by the Royal Court where the sentencing powers are higher.

He said he would abide by the compliance notices if it could be proved that the land in question came under Guernsey law but to date nobody had been able to do that.

He accepted not complying with the notices but refused to enter pleas as he said the notices were void for that reason and he was innocent.

Deputy Bailiff Jessica Roland said the court would take that as being not guilty pleas to all five matters.

The case, she said, was not a reopening of the planning process but about compliance with it, and neither was it a rerun over jurisdiction.

Opening the case for the prosecution, Crown Advocate Chris Dunford told the court the defendant considered his land, which he called Everland, a separate state from Guernsey.

He considered he was the king and law maker there and had given himself the power to grant planning permission. It was the prosecution’s case that it was not a separate state and, like any other land in Guernsey, came under the island’s Land Planning and Development Law, which a preliminary hearing had already confirmed.

The defendant felt wronged by the action taken against him but Advocate Dunford urged members of the court to keep focused on the main issues in the case which was a criminal prosecution.

The defendant had had an opportunity to appeal the compliance notices served on him but had not done so.

Then planning enforcement officer, now retired, David Perrio told the court of his visits to the site from 2018. It was classed as agricultural land and not domestic where there were some exemptions.

Mr Ogier had failed to return the land to its former levels after hundreds of tonnes of soil had been removed. He had not demolished a dry stone wall that was built there or removed a shed, he had not removed vehicles from the land to leave only a maximum of one, he had not ceased using land outside a bunker to store vehicles and had failed to remove a trailer.

At a preliminary hearing in November, the Deputy Bailiff ruled that the court did have jurisdiction over Mr Ogier’s land and that the prosecution could continue. He argued he was unable to get a fair hearing and that the Guernsey courts were biased against him.

He said that when the then Deputy Bailiff, Richard McMahon, had presided over previous hearings, he was not aware that he would become presiding officer in the States. The States controlled the planners and the courts and he believed government was conspiring to get him locked up.

He had already been billed for £20,400 in costs in relation to previous proceedings in the civil courts. He had suffered constant harassment because of the matter, a relationship had failed, he had been arrested, and made homeless in the middle of winter.

Mr Ogier vowed to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

After summing up to the Jurats, and before sending them out to deliberate, Ms Roland asked both parties if they had anything more to say.

Mr Ogier said the Jurats had only been given half the story and the case had been set up to be judged on false assumptions, which he said was very unfair.

Following the court’s decision, Ms Roland said that as the maximum penalty was two years in prison or an unlimited fine, the court would want a probation report before sentencing.

Mr Ogier will be sentenced in March and he was bailed unconditionally until then.

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