Beds, Herts & Bucks

Teenager jailed for taking photo at Luton Crown Court

A teenager from Luton has been jailed for two months for taking a photograph of a courtroom from the public gallery during a hearing.

Paul Thompson, 19, had gone to Luton Crown Court to support a friend facing a custodial sentence for robbing an off-duty police officer.

He was seen taking a picture which he sent to a friend.

After his Blackberry phone was seized he admitted being in contempt of court and was jailed by Judge Barbara Mensah.

She said: "There are notices all around the court building about not taking photographs in court.

"This is a serious offence and the message must go out that people cannot take photos."

As she jailed him on Friday, Thompson said: "That's stupid, man."

After Thompson was seen taking the photo his phone was seized and he was taken to the cells.

'Stupid idiot'

An hour later he was brought into the dock and admitted the charge.

Thompson's defence barrister John Livingstone told the judge the teenager had admitted being "a stupid idiot".

He said: "It was not a photograph of anyone in particular and he did not notice any signs forbidding this behaviour.

"This has been a very big shock for him."

He said Thompson was very concerned as he had left his eight-week-old puppy alone in his flat in Luton, and the dog was not house trained and no-one else had access to the property.

A spokesman for the UK penal reform charity, the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "Short spells in custody have been shown to be very ineffectual and they are a costly way of dealing with the issue.

"Young people are so used to using their phones like this these days and a little understanding of that by the court would not have resulted in a prison sentence.

"Also, and this was seen with the disproportionate sentencing following the riots, there is a degree to which it appears the justice system is not keeping pace with the change in technology."

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