An 'exceptionally stupid' man who forced the abandonment of a stabbing trial because he took a photograph in court and posted it on Facebook with prejudicial comments was jailed for four months today.
At Gloucester Crown Court Keiran Graham, 24, of Magdala Road in the city admitted contempt of court and apologised to Judge Alistair McGrigor.
He claimed he had not realised it was an offence to take pictures in court - but the Judge told him there were notices throughout the building warning that it is a criminal offence.
Graham appeared tearful and contrite in court - but later when he emerged in handcuffs to be taken to prison he shouted and swore and made a one finger gesture to a press photographer.
Graham had been sitting in the public gallery of the court on February 3 when the trial of Kane McConnon, 23, of Colne Avenue, Cheltenham, was due to get under way on a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
There was a delay in proceedings while the prosecution finalised the charges and it was then that Graham snapped the courtroom on his phone and put the picture on his Facebook page.
Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the picture showed the defendant sitting in the dock. Graham added a comment saying "Look who I found at court, Mush!!!"
He named then went on to make comments about the case, which could have prejudiced the trial, and also referred to the alleged stabbing victim Curtis Brigdale in 'derogatory terms.'
The Facebook picture and comments were seen by a prosecution witness in the case who reported it to Gloucester Crown Court security officer Richard Dando, Mr Kesner said.
Mr Dando then brought it to the attention of the prosecution and the judge.
"As a result of this, of course, the trial could not fairly go ahead and had to be delayed and adjourned for later trial in Bristol," the prosecutor said.
"The defendant went to ground afterwards. It had been Your Honour's intention to deal with him on February 3 but he was not arrested till last night when officers attended the home of a known associate of his.
"They were let into the house and Mr Graham was not there. But the back door had been left open and the police found him hiding in a neighbouring shed.
"The consequence is that a great deal of public money has been wasted, as Your Honour knows only too well."
He said the maximum sentence the court could impose for contempt of court is two years.
Joe Maloney, for Graham, said "He realises that he has been exceptionally stupid and would wish to purge his contempt by apologising personally."
From the dock Graham, who has short dark hair and facial stubble, told the judge "I would just like to say that if I knew it would go this far I would never have done it.
"I didn't realise that photos were not allowed in court."
But Judge McGrigor said "If you look around you in court you can see two notices saying photographs are not allowed. When you come into the building there are other notices in the corridors."
Graham continued "I do understand that and I should have paid more attention.
"I would never have caused my family and my girlfriend so much misery just to take a photo. I realise I am totally totally wrong.
"As soon as I knew about it I deleted it and smashed up my phone. I didn't realise that a photo would bring me here in front of you and facing a jail sentence.
"I am deeply sorry about it. I am distressed about all the trouble it has caused and cost."
Mr Maloney said "I invite the court to be as merciful as it can. He didn't appreciate the folly of this. This case will perhaps make the warnings even better known."
Judge McGrigor said "It is difficult to see how the court could do more to warn people of the consequences of taking photographs and then, on top of that, effectively prejudicing the trial by posting the words that he did."
Graham, wearing a grey pullover, white shirt and light grey tracksuit trousers, leaned forward in the dock with his head in his hands and could be heard sobbing.
Jailing him for four months the judge said "The result of your actions is that the trial had to be adjourned to Bristol Crown Court with all the attendant expense and loss of court time.
"Around this court are numerous signs clearly warning that no photography is permitted and that it is a criminal offence to take photos.
"You disregarded that warning and then compounded the contempt (with your comments).
"This could have caused great injustice and even more expense. "
Kane McConnon remains in custody on remand awaiting a new date for his trial.