Skupian, whose story has unfolded in the British media this past month, was sentenced by the Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on Thursday to 13 weeks in jail for fraud and another three weeks for unrelated thefts, the BBC reported. The homeless father of one had been training for a race ahead of the London Marathon, his defense lawyer Jameela Jamroz said. He wanted to watch the race, and "[i]n his excitement he picked up the identifier thinking this was his opportunity to compete in the marathon," Jamroz said. "[T]his was in fact a dream come true for him."
The charge against Skupian states that he intended to benefit himself by procuring "a finisher's medal and other items associated with completing the London Marathon," the Guardian reported. It is unclear what these "other items" are, but finishers of the marathon in years past have received gift bags filled with healthy snacks in addition to the medals.
Magistrate Michael O'Gorman said Thursday that "the offences [committed by Skupian] are so serious as only a prison sentence will suffice," but many Britons on social media seemed to disagree.
Some described the sentence as "counter-productive" and "ludicrous," while others called on Britain's overstretched police force to focus on pursuing more serious crimes instead. Many are also criticizing the organizers of the marathon for what they see as a lack of compassion for Skupian's circumstances.
As the outrage continues to mount, some people are taking particular offense at the remarks of Nick Bitel, the chief executive of the London Marathon. According to the BBC, he said Skupian's actions threatened the reputation of the race. "It is good to see that justice has been done," Bitel said after Skupian's sentencing.
"No, Mr Bitel," one user responded on Twitter," it's *you* who [has] damaged the integrity of the race."
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