Here in the UK artists’ chalk sketches made in court are a familiar sight; photography in court rooms is banned. Unfortunately this snippet of information, along with the signs saying something along the lines of ‘No photography’ escaped the notice of one Paul Thompson when he turned up at Luton Crown Court on Friday to lend his support to a friend who was on trial for robbing an off-duty police officer.
One photograph from his Blackberry and an hour-and-a-bit later, he was sentenced to two months in prison for contempt of court by Judge Barbara Mensah. She reckoned that a strong message needed to be sent to people who commit such a serious offence.
Judge Mensah, I think that Paul Thompson and quite a few other people might just have got that message.
Yes, it was contempt of court. Yes, it was a remarkably stupid thing to do. Yes, it was also a remarkably ignorant thing to do; using your mobile phone in court is plain rude. But I can’t help but agree with various lawyers and penal reform charities who’ve said that two months is verging on over-kill. Haven’t we got other people, you know, like convicted murderers, who should be in our already-overcrowded prisons?
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