“Within minutes, his friends on Facebook are condemning the words he has posted and telling him in no uncertain terms what a poor opinion they now have of him,” Miss Atkins said.
In response, the boy then posted a second message, saying he didn’t see the point of being pushed around by the police all the time.
The boy then entered into a debate with one friend in particular over the shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham on August 4 before admitting his comments had been ‘stupid’.
“We are all thankful that his friends were much more sensible than he was and did not react in any way that would lead to further comments in any shape or form,” Miss Atkins told the court.
Lady, are you serious? "Within minutes, his friends... are condemning the words ... and telling him in no uncertain terms what a poor opinion they now have of him." [Translation] Within minutes, his friends are busting his balls for being an "idiot". Anyone who uses Facebook or Twitter regularly knows that this sort of banter happens all the time.
"We are thankful that his friends were much more sensible than he was and did not react in any way that would lead to further comments in any shape or form..."
In police interview, the boy said he had only made the comments to ‘have a laugh’ and didn’t intend anyone to take the actions he had suggested.
David Stewart, in mitigation, said the boy had since realised he had been ‘inordinately foolish’ and recognised what an idiot he had been.
“His friends have a very poor opinion of him and he has a very poor opinion of himself,” Mr Stewart said.
“A lesson has been learnt.”It's as if the defence counsel has never heard of the Twitter Joke Trial. That's because he probably hasn't. Early on in that case the South Yorkshire Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) persuaded the defendant and his lawyer that there was no choice but to enter a guilty plea as Paul Chambers did not deny that he'd sent the offending communication. In other words, the CPS were of the opinion that this was a strict liability offence. This was despite case law from the House of Lords that required mens rea (guilty mind, or intent) to be proven. Had Paul been receiving good legal advice from the beginning, he would have entered a not guilty plea and the CPS would likely have dropped the case, because they felt there was insufficient evidence at that time to prove intent.
I wonder whether Mr Stewart believed this to be a strict liability offence and that the only possible plea was guilty. I wonder whether the West Suffolk CPS believed this as well. This case is an utter disgrace. The rush to early "justice" following the UK Riots has prevented this young man from gaining access to a robust defence. Had some lawyers that I am well acquainted with had the time to become aware of this case before it was heard before the Magistrates, they could have offered free advice that I believe would have drastically improved the outcome of this "trial". I can only hope that the facts I've examined here can form the basis of a successful appeal. This truly is Arsehole Justice in its purest form. Let me end on this tragic note from the Guardian coverage:
The boy's mother told the court: "He is normally a good boy but, like all teenagers, he has his stupid moments."
Speaking to magistrates, the boy added: "I meant it as a joke which is why I wrote LOL at the end."