Earlier this week we covered the story of young Jordan Dunn. You will no doubt remember that whilst at Upton Park, watching West Ham Utd vs Tottenham Hotspur, it all got a bit much for Mr Dunn and he burst onto the pitch, ran the length of the field, away from his pursuers, and took a free kick. He was then duly accosted and sat on by some burly stewards.
He pleaded guilty to pitch invasion, an offence under the Football (Offences) Act 1991, and was fined £305.
If you want to read the full summary, you can do so here.
Seemingly not content with receiving a slap on the write and a modest fine, Mr Dunn set up a crowd-funding page on gofundme.com. Google defines crowd-funding as “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”
The page is entitled “Jordan Dunn FineRaiser” and has a target of £305 – the amount of his fine. As of 9am on 4 September, Mr Dunn’s expectations had been exceeded and the sum raised by kind donees was £315. (Of course we assume that there were some costs and a victim surcharge to pay, and so the real sum payable by Dunn is likely to be north of £400).
The story was covered by the Evening Standard here.
Is that allowed?
Well there is nothing which requires the money to come from the offender’s own pocket – that is obviously the purpose, but enforcing a policy which required the offender to pay their own fine would be fraught with difficulties, for obvious reasons.
However, what Mr Dunn may not be aware of is a provision under the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980. Section 142 allows a a judge to rescind or vary a sentence up to 56 days after it was imposed.
The judge basically has two options: increase the fine (varying the sentence) or impose a different sentence (rescind and re-sentence).
This would seem like a prime case for section 142 to be used as currently, the intention of the court to punish Mr Dunn is being frustrated as effectively, he isn’t being fined (and therefore punished) at all. One potential problem is that if the judge increases the fine, then donations on the page are likely to increase; could the judge continue to increase the fine each time the donations rise to meet the new level? Well that would make a mockery of the system.
Is it likely therefore than the only real option is to re-sentance Mr Dunn? Perhaps. What options are open to the judge? Well that is where this process runs into difficulty. The maximum sentence for the offence is a level three fine (currently £1,000).
So what can the judge realistically do? Well, not a great deal, save for imposing a fine not exceeding the maximum, ensuring that it is both proportionate to Mr Dunn’s means. If £305 was the appropriate amount, and donations stand at £315, then something in the order of £600 would seem to be correct – until the donations increase.
If I was the judge, I would rescind the sentence and put it off for re-sentencing for as long as was possible (without giving rise to any complaint by Dunn’s representatives). That way, the media attention and interest surrounding the case goes away and most likely the willingness of people to donate money to the gofundme.com page. Then, when the case is back for sentence, take the sum that has been donated, add to it £305 and leave it at that.
We’ll keep an eye out for what happens with this, but at the very least, you have to take your hat off to Mr Dunn for showing some ingenuity (albeit that it might not work out the way he hoped). Nice try.
[Thanks to Legal Cheek for highlighting the story]