Burglar Luke Mansell walked away from Telford Magistrates Court after being sentenced for beating a 78-year-old man with a 5ft plank of wood.
Prior to appearing before the bench, he boasted to friends about smoking a ‘big fat joint’.
And afterwards, he told his Facebook friends: “I’m off tag. Wooooo. Hip hip array.” (sic)
Those actions illustrate Mansell’s contemptuous disrespect for both the court proceedings and the misery he inflicted on his victim.
Probe a little deeper and the facts of Mansell’s case are even more disturbing.
The youngster was caught red-handed by the 78-year-old burgling a neighbour’s property.
His victim had a pre-existing heart condition and the shock of being beaten up could well have killed him.
Magistrates gave Mansell a piffling 16-week jail sentence, suspended it for two years, allowing him to walk away a free man.
That, in itself, is bad enough.
But Mansell’s Facebook page reveals the shocking disregard that the youngster had for proceedings.
His brief told the court that the teenager had been ‘scared to his wits’ end’ about what was going to happen in the case.
Oh, come off it.
Mansell’s messages to friends revealed the truth.
He boasted on Facebook about his drug-taking antics and posted photographs of drug-taking paraphernalia before saying he was going to celebrate by going to get drunk.
The Youth Offending Service told the court that Mansell had demonstrated a capacity to change.
We can only hope it is right.
For starters, this immature boy needs to knuckle down, get himself a job, turn his back on his criminal ways and say no to drugs.
Showing contrition and regret for the suffering he has caused should also feature highly on his list of priorities.
If Mansell fails in that task and returns to a life of crime, we can only hope that the police bring him back before the courts.
Magistrates should then send him to jail to serve every single second of his too-short sentence.
Maybe that will teach him a lesson he needs to learn.
Criminals, society at large and the victims of crime are ill-served by courts which dish out soft sentences.
Magistrates send out the wrong message to criminals when they offer a slap on the wrist, rather than issuing a sentence fit for the crime.
Suspended sentences are no deterrent to young men who cock a snook at the justice system by bragging about his drug taking.
Let’s not forget: Mansell’s victim could have died.
Of course, the justice system could always look again at the case.
The Crown Prosecution Service may feel Mansell is in contempt of court, while police might also want to talk to him about his public commitment to drug-taking activities.
Soft soap sentences serve no-one . . . least of all young tearaways like Luke Mansell.