This has to be one of the more interesting cases I have seen in a while. A juror phones the court claiming to be ill thus leading to a postponement of a criminal case. All seems fine and dandy until it turns out that he was actually in London attending a show. Not so clever. He lied not once but twice to court officials about where he was before admitting to the judge what he had done on the Monday. He thought he’d get a fine. He got time. You can read the report on the BBC News website behind the link. The version in the Daily Mail was shall we say less newsy and more ‘aren’t the courts evil for sending a 19 year-old to a young offenders institute when there are terrorists and foreign pweople allowed to roam the streets’.
Matthew Banks was released early today because his due date for release was Boxing Day. Apparently no-one can be let out of jail on Boxing Day because – well – no-one has specified why not but it probably has to do with a national newspaper getting on the bandwagon. He admits that it was stupid to lie to the court but that he had received the ticket to the show ‘as a gift and didn’t want to let people down’.
Look I know we’ve all done stupid things in our lives but lying to a court is more than stupid. Although heck we had ITV1’s The Jury a few weeks back which seemed to show you can lie to a court and get away with it so who knows. He certainly deserved a legitimate punishment and not ‘just a fine’ – a long community service sentence would have suited me just fine as the kid no doubt will have learned his lesson just by being in the dock however the judge decided to send him down and I’m not sure the family have any legal rights to get the conviction overturned. He committed contempt of court and the judge had every legal right to send him down for a few days.
Apparently the kid had only just moved to university and his mother was dead against him doing jury duty. I don’t understand why this is the case. He’s 19 years of age and goes to university. He should have it in him to sit in a jury box and be part of a jury. I see no reason why he shouldn’t do it. Speaking to the Daily Mail his mother says that he hadn’t settled in well at university as though that is mitigating circumstances for his behaviour. Really? Really? REALLY?
Having a criminal record is going to impact his future career prospects and that is sad. All for just being stupid. However many other people have criminal records for being stupid, usually on an impulse. This wasn’t an impulsive choice. He thought that it didn’t matter if he was ill and that the trial would carry on regardless if he was there or not. That shows that he calculated this and believed he would get away with lying to a court. I just can’t see why anyone would ever think that was a good idea.
I feel he was dealt with harshly by the judge but not illegally. He did the crime and got a very tough sentence. The old adage of ‘if you can’t do the time then don’t do the crime’ is a good one. Young Matthew Banks knew what he was doing and he knew that contempt of court was a crime yet he decided to do it anyway.
You do have to feel for him on some level (and I do) but not egregiously so. Lying to a court is just not the done thing. He probably didn’t deserve to spend time behind bars but on the flip side a fine would have been far too lenient. If I were him I’d lick my wounds and get on with it. Sadly it looks like he and his mother have a different idea of how to move forward as they are planning a national petition to get his criminal record expunged despite him having admitted to a crime…
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