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Committal for Contempt of Court in Open Court at Northampton: Pentelow

Case Numbers: T20197117, T20197121, T20197124

In the Crown Court at Northampton

9 March 2020

 

Before:

Her Honour Judge Lucking Q.C.

Between:

R

-v-

Thomas, Hughes, Patel, Woodley and Ghilani (Operation Tahiti)

 


  1. Billy Pentelow is the brother of the deceased in a murder trial. The contempt occurred at the conclusion of a murder trial on the 5th of March 2020. During delivery of verdict the female foreman of the jury read out the verdict on the count of murder which was one of not guilty. Mr. Pentelow stood up, shouted directly at the foreman of the jury, “How have you found him fucking not guilty, he murdered him and admitted stabbing him?” The foreman was immediately reduced to tears. He was also verbally abusive of the jurors in general and of His Honour Judge Mayo, the trial judge. Mr. Pentelow threw a lighter at the dock. He stormed out of court. His Honour Judge Mayo directed that Mr. Pentelow be arrested. He had left the building and was not located. The delivery of the verdicts was delayed by an hour. The foreman was then able to return to court with the jury and deliver the remaining verdict. Police carried out searches but Mr. Pentelow handed himself in in the early hours of this morning, the 9th of March 2020. He sent an email message to one of the officers in the case in roughly the following terms: ‘I am handing myself later sorry for not keeping to my word I will be in court in the morn. Sorry for losing rag, just didn’t see that coming, say thanks to all your colleagues and you. I know it was not your fault or the Judges, is what it is, now I have to deal with my actions – I won’t be harsh but what it done and I will have to pay’. Mr. Pentelow has amassed convictions for 96 offences in the course of 32 court appearances. The offences include disobedience to Court orders, violence and drug related offending.

 

  1. A representation order was granted. The behaviour was an outburst of frustration; he was sorry and disgusted at his own behaviour. It was agreed that the harm was high but the culpability was less than high. Despite his previous convictions he had overcome his heroin addiction and in the last two years had overcome his crack cocaine addiction. He has not committed an offence since 2018. He has changed even since the Contempt.

 

  1. Taking into account the remarks of the Court of Appeal in R v Russell [2006] EWCA Crim 470 “Those who attack a judge, juror or officer of the court in the course of their duties, particularly in the courtroom, can expect very long sentences measured in years. If the attack is an attempt to frustrate the processes of the trial, that is a further aggravating feature.” Also considered R v Yusuf [2016] EWCA Crim 1684.

 

  1. 12 months’ imprisonment would be the starting point. High harm in view of the distress caused to the foreman of the jury when delivering a verdict in a murder trial, but middle range culpability because he was aware of his difficulty in holding his temper before coming into Court. The sentence reduced by one third to reflect the admission of the contempt and the fact that the defendant handed himself him and then by a further 2 months’ to reflect personal mitigation. The final sentence was 6 months’ imprisonment of which he would serve half.

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