Defendant who told judge “suck my cock” on Facebook to be re-sentenced

Defendant who told judge “suck my cock” on Facebook to be re-sentenced

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From Cascade News

The headline pretty much sums up the story – Daniel Sledden was convicted of supplying cannabis was sentenced by HHJ Lunt. He received a two-year suspended sentence. Understandably over-joyed at not facing a stretch inside, just minutes after his sentencing hearing was concluded, Sledden took to Facebook to express his jubilation:

“Cannot believe my luck 2 year suspended sentence beats the 3 year jail yes pal! Beverly Lunt go suck my cock.”

The judge became aware of this message and decided to vary the sentence under the ‘slip rule’ – the slip rule allows the court to re-visit the sentence within 56 days of the original sentence.

Sledden then posted an apology on his Facebook page:

“I want to say how sorry I am for what I wrote about Judge Lunt and my sentence. I was very lucky not to be sent to prison and I was very stupid to have written what I did. I want to say sorry to Judge Lunt and to anyone else who was upset or offended by my thoughtless post which I did not mean.”

On 16 February 2016, both men were returned to court and remanded in custody until 26 February 2016.

The judge said:

“It is plain they were never intending for me to see it, so they are not harassing me.” It appears, according to the Guardian’s report of the hearing, that the judge rejected the possibility that the messages constituted either a criminal offence or a contempt of court.

The Guardian reported that ‘Lunt said remorse and contrition was “a vital component” when considering sentencing but the length of the jail terms were not wrong.’

“It is the issue of suspension. Would I have done so had I appreciated, as I do now, their true views and what they really thought of the court proceedings?”

There will be a hearing on 26 February 2016 where the judge will determine whether or the sentences should be varied.

Comment

As can be seen the facts are rather sparse. We can’t comment on the original sentence, and whether that was in fact lenient or not.

As for the decision to vary the sentence under the slip rule, it remains to be seen what the judge will do. The slip rule is not designed to allow the courts to increase a sentence where the judge has had a think and decided that the original sentence was a bit too lenient – it is designed to enable the court to rectify mistakes of law or where the sentence has been imposed on an incorrect basis.

That is the issue here: do the Facebook posts demonstrate that the remorse and contrition relied upon as mitigation at the original sentencing hearing were false? If so, a variation would be permissible and there is case law to support such a proposition. If not, the situation is more unclear. In our view, the judge would not be entitled to vary the sentence.

We’ll keep an eye out and update this post after the hearing.

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Lyndon is the General Editor of Current Sentencing Practice and the Criminal Appeal Reports (Sentencing)

8 COMMENTS

  1. I reckon he’ll still get the suspended sentence on the 26th.. and in the meantime have 10 days in remand to think over his stupidity!

  2. Quite scary to think that sounding off after the event (sentencing) can still land you in trouble. Lordy.

  3. So why was the other bloke arrested?
    L-E-S next time you get off with a fine be careful what you say and where you say it, like I always am!!

  4. Today they have been re-sentenced to immediate custody. The earlier Guardian article that you linked to said:

    “The review was postponed until 26 February so the full transcript of the sentencing remarks could be obtained to assess what weight the judge gave to the previous expressions of remorse.”

    So it would be good for the public to see a copy of those earlier sentencing remarks in order to understand the new decision, but I wouldn’t know how to go about obtaining them. Any ideas?

    • Yes, duration is as per the original sentence. The difference is that it is not suspended. The BBC headline (“Accrington brothers jailed over Facebook judge posts”) is potentially rather misleading, even though they said “over” rather than “for”. Of course what they were jailed for was the original offence.

  5. A) what a total moron
    B) why post a derogatory comment about the judge when he was actually grateful to her for suspending his sentence? I would’ve thought a compliment or expression of gratitude would be more in order.
    C) two years for supplying cannabis? Prison overcrowding would be far less of a problem if we had more sensible drugs laws…
    D) it does seem pretty dodgy to unsuspend (if that’s the word) a sentence based on an ill-advised Facebook comment. Besides, someone might actually be remorseful and yet still relieved not to go to jail (and might just express that relief badly).

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