The only reference I can find to this strange case is in the Times (£). A man in the public gallery was subjected to almost instant judgement last Friday for taking a photo with his mobile phone inside a court room. Apparently a girlfriend had texted him asking where he was and he responded via the photo. It took just seventy-five minutes from the moment he was spotted to being led down to the cells to begin his jail term.
There are reasons for this law being in place. Who’d want to be a star witness for the prosecution or sit on a jury that convicted a violent criminal and then have photos plastered all over the media? However, the law should be re-assessed in light of discussions about televising court proceedings and two months is a very harsh term. What happened to community service or a fine?
It’s true that “ignorance of the law is no defence” but this young man was astounded – he wasn’t even allowed to make arrangements for the care of his dog which he’d left at home unattended while he attended the trial.
“The phone was seized and Thompson was arrested. He was taken down to the cells of the court at 2.30pm on Friday and a barrister was appointed to represent him. An hour later, he was brought back into the dock, where he admitted a charge of contempt of court in front of Judge Barbara Mensah…
“… Judges decide sentences on a range of factors and a higher sentence might be imposed if the case was extremely sensitive or at risk of being stopped.
“Lawyers said yesterday that in this case a two-month sentence seemed harsh, when the judge could have made the same point by jailing the teenager for 24 hours.”