Two prisoners jailed for rap video made with illegal phone

    Two prisoners jailed for rap video made with illegal phone

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    Photo from the Birmingham Mail

    Introduction

    We can’t give legal advice on the blog. But take this one for free – if you’re going to commit a criminal offence, don’t video it and post it on the internet – it makes prosecuting you a whole lot easier.

    Words that could have been heeded by Demehl Thomas and Moysha Shepherd who were jailed on 22nd December 2015 for committing an offence under the Prisons Act.

     

    Facts

    Demehl Thomas and Moysha Shepherd were serving prisoners; Mr Thomas is doing 7 years for aggravated burglary, whilst Ms Shepherd is “serving a sentence of five years and 11 months for dangerous driving”.

    Pausing there to say that if that news report is accurate then Mr Shepherd ought to get himself off to the Court of Appeal pronto as the maximum sentence is 2 years.

    Leaving that aside (we assume it’s an error in the reporting), we know that they were detained together in HMP Birmingham together.

    There’s often not that much to do in prison, and these two decided to alleviate the boredom through creativity. Unfortunately this took the form of a rap song where they were bragging about “drug dealing and violent assaults on rival gang members“.

    That’s not, of course, illegal. What was illegal was to video it on a mobile phone (which is banned in prison) and upload it to the internet this summer.

    They were both sentenced to 9 months.

     

    What’s the offence?

    The offence is under s40D(1)(a) Prison Act 1952. This creates an offence if someone “makes a sound-recording, inside a prison” without authorisation.

    This is an either way offence, with a maximum sentence of 2 years.

     

    How much longer will they serve?

    Unclear. Although there is power to make a sentence of imprisonment imposed during another sentence of imprisonment consecutive to it, the news reports said it was ‘to run alongside their existing jail terms‘.

    That presumably means concurrent. If so,  that’s probably a bit generous (but hey, it is Christmas) as normal procedure would be to treat this as a separate offence and to mark the fact that it was committed in prison with a consecutive sentence. 

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    Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

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