Taking 'selfie' picture in court costs Connah's Quay man £505

Published date: 21 March 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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DANIEL Lee Thomas’ first ‘selfie’ photograph landed him in deep trouble - as he took it in the public gallery of a crown court.

The apprentice joiner even posted it on social networking website Facebook – complete with a judge and the Mold Crown Court crest in the background.

Thomas, of Mold Road, Connah’s Quay, was prosecuted for taking and publishing a photograph of a judge and other parties in a criminal court.

At Flintshire Magistrates Court at Mold yesterday he pleaded guilty and was fined £400 with £105 costs.

But magistrates ordered his iPhone, seized by police, should be returned to him.

The court heard Thomas, 28, decided to take the photo as it was the first time he had been in a crown court when he was not the defendant.

Magistrates told him it had been “a silly misdemeanour”. There were plenty of signs in the building telling people not to take photographs and it was a well known rule they should not be taken inside court, they said.

They warned him he could have been fined up to £2,000.

The photograph of Judge Peter Heywood, a Swansea-based judge sitting at Mold Crown Court on January 31, was reported to police by court officials following a complaint by someone in court.

Prosecutor Helen Tench told magistrates: “He attended court as an interested party and took a photograph on his mobile phone.

“It was subsequently published on the Facebook social media site.

“It came to light because another interested party made a complaint to the court about it. It was investigated by members of staff.”

Police went to his home, seized the phone and found the offending photograph.
Thomas said he had not seen the signs.

“He said he was not aware that it was an offence.

“Effectively, he did it because it was his first time in court when he was not the defendant himself.”

Gary Harvey, defending, said Thomas was a colourful character who had been to court many times.

He had not noticed the ‘no photographs’ signs and did not think it was an offence.

Thomas took the opportunity to take a ‘selfie’ complete with the crest of the court and judge in the background. He put it on Facebook and had no idea how much trouble it would cause him. He was shocked to have been arrested.

“He is contrite. He regrets it but will have to pay the penalty,” said Mr Harvey.
Fortunately, he had not been charged with contempt which could have led to imprisonment.

Mr Harvey said there would be no repetition and it would be harsh and disproportionate to deprive him of his expensive iPhone.

Outside court, Thomas said: “It was my first ever ‘selfie’.

“I had never been in the public gallery before – it was the first time in court when I was not the defendant.”

He said he did not know which case was on when he took the photograph.

Thomas said he had been waiting for three friends to be sentenced after they clambered up on a roof in Deeside and refused to come down.

But the judge had refused to sentence them that day before they were appearing via a live television link from prison.

“I didn’t know it was an offence,” he said.

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