Judge slammed for threatening 14-year-old girl with jail time if she 'cried' while her mother was giving evidence in court
The mother had been accused of smuggling two mobile phones, a sim card, and some cannabis to her boyfriend, David Akende, who is currently in the Wandsworth prison
A judge in the UK has now come under fire after he was heard threatening to throw a 14-year-old girl in a courthouse cell if she cried while her mother was giving evidence in court. Natasha Myers was in the court on trial for smuggling contraband items into a prison when Judge Stephen John made the shocking threat towards her daughter. The mother had been accused of smuggling two mobile phones, a sim card, and some cannabis to her boyfriend, David Akende, who is currently in the Wandsworth prison, while she went there on a visit with her daughter in tow.
According to the Daily Mail, the Appeal Court heard last month that on the day she went to the court to give evidence, Judge John withdrew her bail because he had been worried that she could flee. The morning after, he is reported to have ordered the teen to apologize to him for being rude but it is still not known what it is that the teen is alleged to have told him.
This is not the first time Judge Stephen John has been criticised for his behaviour towards defendants or witnesses. He regularly presides over prosecutions involving sexual allegations. How many convictions in his courtroom could be tainted by this sort of judicial bullying? pic.twitter.com/Ww3TKyH2bt— Simon Warr (@bbcsimonwarr) October 16, 2018
The judge is also said to have warned the teen that she would be arrested immediately if she made any reactions while her mother was giving evidence. He told the girl: "I don’t care if you’re 14, you’ll go into a cell the same as anybody else."
The Times reported that the mother was initially found guilty in April and was subsequently jailed for 18 months. In a stroke of luck, Myers has had her convictions overturned after the Appeal Court found out that she did not get a fair trial because of Judge John's treatment of her.
Lord Justice Hamblen, who is one of the three Appeal Court judges, said that Judge John's reaction could have possibly "handicapped her" in giving proper evidence. He said: "It was not appropriate for the judge to threaten to send a 14-year-old girl to the cells at all, let alone for a mere facial reaction. This is likely to have caused considerable upset [to her mother] and potentially to have handicapped her in the continued giving of her evidence."
Founder of the Transform Justice charity, Penelope Gibbs, said that Judge John "may have been having a bad week but his treatment of a child who was about to be deprived of her mother was totally unacceptable".