-Judge tells Charles Gilmour, 21, with his 'advantages' in life he should have 'known better than to engage in such a criminal and reprehensible way'
-Cambridge University refuse to say whether student will be allowed back
By Rebecca Camber
The son of Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour was jailed yesterday after showing the ‘ultimate disrespect’ to Britain’s war dead by swinging from the Cenotaph during the student riots.
Charlie Gilmour, 21, reeled in shock as he was handed a 16-month sentence for his ‘outrageous and deeply offensive behaviour’ during a drug-fuelled rampage that also saw him attack Prince Charles’s car.
The Cambridge University history student was ‘out of his mind’ on a cocktail of LSD, Valium and whisky when he laid siege to the royal convoy during the tuition fee protests in London on December 9 last year.
Not happy, Gilmour: Charlie Gilmour, left, who was jailed yesterday for 16 months, arrives at court with his father, Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour and his mother Polly Samson (rear, centre)
He threw a bin at a car carrying royal protection officers and leapt on the bonnet of the vehicle escorting the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to the Royal Variety Performance.
Gilmour, whose parents have a home in London as well as a £2.68million seafront mansion in Hove, East Sussex, was also part of a mob who ransacked TopShop’s flagship Oxford Street store, causing £50,000 worth of damage.
Yesterday the yob tried to excuse his behaviour, saying that he had not known it was the Cenotaph. But Judge Nicholas Price scoffed at the excuse, saying: ‘For you, a young man of undoubted high intelligence, education and background, to profess you didn’t know what the Cenotaph represented defies belief.
Under attack: The Rolls-Royce of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall was attacked during the protests
Jailed: Charlie Gilmour outside Kingston Crown Court during a break in proceedings
‘It’s through the deaths of those many thousands who gave their lives that you have been given the opportunity for the democratic right to protest, but you showed ultimate disrespect to those who fell defending their country.
‘Such outrageous and deeply offensive behaviour gives a clear indication of how out of control you were that day.’
The judge told how Gilmour’s conduct had prompted a deluge of ‘vituperative and in many cases obscene’ hate mail sent to his blameless family.
However, he accepted that Gilmour had shown contrition the day after his actions, and stressed that his antics at the Cenotaph did not form part of the violent disorder charge.
But sentencing him at Kingston Crown Court, Surrey, he said: ‘I have to take into account that you have had many advantages which are denied to most young men who come before this court.
‘I have no doubt you felt strongly about the legislation regarding student fees, but what you did went far, far beyond proper protest.’
Gilmour was wide-eyed in shock as he was led away by a prison officer, while his mother, writer Polly Samson, sobbed.Later, she and her rock star husband, who is worth an estimated £78million, hugged their son’s university friends, many of whom shook with emotion.
During the hearing, Gilmour’s lawyer wheeled out no fewer than 13 character references, many from ‘very distinguished’ members of society, including BBC boss Alan Yentob and the chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis.
David Spens, QC, defending, said Gilmour, an ex-pupil at £9,000-a-term Lancing College in West Sussex, was a ‘gentle’ student who had been subjected to ‘serious bullying’ in the past.
He said the second-year student – who was adopted by Dave Gilmour – had been catapulted into a downward spiral of drink and drugs by a disastrous meeting last year with his biological father, the radical playwright and poet Heathcote Williams.
Mr Spens said: ‘For a period of time starting around August 2010 he was, by his own admission, on something of a continual binge, taking a range of illicit and illegal drugs. In his own words, he spent most of the week, effectively every week, tranquillised out of his mind.
Going home alone: David Gilmour and his wife Polly Samson leave Kingston Crown Court following the sentencing of their son Charlie
Close family: Charlie Gilmour, right, pictured here as his father is awarded a CBE by the Queen in 2003, was given 16 months behind bars today. Here he is pictured with his father, mother Polly, and sister Alice (left)
‘This young man has had to cope with the pain and considerable emotional upheaval of having a biological father who rejected him for no good reason and has continued to reject him throughout his life.’
Mr Spens said Gilmour had now sought help from a psychotherapist, had stopped using drugs and cut down his drinking.
Gilmour admitted violent disorder at a hearing in May, but denied he was responsible for the bin attack.
A spokesman for Girton College, Cambridge, said he could not comment on whether Gilmour would be allowed to return to finish his course.
Cenotaph swing: Gilmour was photographed and filmed swinging from the Union Flag on the Cenotaph
Thugs attack the royal convoy during the student fees protests in London last year