Yesterday, I posted on the sentencing of Keith Mann who had earlier been convicted of conspiracy to burgle, viz., he organized a raid on Wickham Laboratories in which lab animals were illegally removed. The judge — Richard Price — knew of Mr. Mann's past history of Animal Rights activism, which included a conviction in 1994 for 21 offenses, including arson, possessing explosives, and escaping from custody (for which he received a 14 year sentence, later reduced). If that weren't enough, Mr. Mann was convicted in 2003 for defrauding the government.
Yet for his current offense, the good juror released Mr. Mann back into society, sentenced only to 230 hours of community work on the grounds that he (Judge Price): didn't want to deprive Mr. Mann's partner of his/her carer, and; that he (Judge Price) didn't want to make a martyr of Mr. Mann.
On his way out of the court, his wrists already fully recovered from the slap, Mr. Mann proceeded to threaten Mr. Chris Bishop of Wickham Laboratories with the words: "Your trouble is only just beginning. You need to look under your bed," whereupon Judge Price reconvened court and sentenced Mr. Mann to 6 months in jail for contempt of court.
Here's how Portsmouth Today characterized Mr. Mann's demeanor after receiving his community service sentence:
A FANATICAL animal rights activist has been jailed for threatening to continue his terror tactics minutes after being allowed to walk free from court.
Gloating Keith Mann threatened a laboratory director as he left the dock for plotting a raid on Wickham Laboratories.
Just seconds after being handed community service for the break-in, Mann fronted up to police boasting 'I've won'. [My emphasis — ed.]
He them smugly leaned towards the lab's technical director Chris Bishop and whispered: 'Your trouble is only just beginning. You will need to look under your bed.'
His threatening behaviour meant he was quickly hauled back before the court and jailed for six months for contempt of court.
Judge Richard Price at Portsmouth Crown Court said: 'I will not have people leaving my court saying that sort of thing. This was a serious threat and a serious contempt of court.
[ . . . ]
So here's how I put this together. When Judge Price said he didn't want to sentence Mr. Mann to jail for the conspiracy offense because he didn't want to make him a martyr, he naïvely or stupidly (your call . . . ) bought into the wishful thought that martyrdom was worse than the alternative.
Now it certainly is true that if Mr. Mann had been sentenced, say, to 10 years in jail, the AR community would portray him as a martyr.
But look at the alternative: by slapping Mr. Mann's wrists, and then not all that hard, the judge sent a very clear message to the AR community: I will alter my decision for sentencing AR radicals — I will lessen their punishment — because I'm afraid that if I don't, you will make them into martyrs!
What a welcome message to send to AR terrorists . . . and how accurately and completely it was understood by the smug and gloating Mr. Mann.
But then, when Judge Price reversed himself and decided that Mr. Mann should spend 6 months in the slammer, he did so because his court had been insulted: Mr. Mann was convicted of "contempt of court."
But really! Given Judge Price's thought processes, what possible reason did Mr. Mann have — or does anyone have — for respecting his court?
Indeed, if Judge Price were deliberately trying to make himself and his court objects of contempt, what would he have done differently?