Magistrate quits in Twitter row

A leading Telford magistrate has quit the bench after being reported for posting details of cases he dealt with on the Twitter social networking site.

Magistrate quits in Twitter row

steve-molyneux-smallA leading Telford magistrate and former Oakengates mayor has quit the bench after being reported for posting details of cases he dealt with on the Twitter social networking site.

Professor Steve Molyneux, an expert in the uses of information technology and a magistrate for 16 years, told fellow Twitterers on one occasion how he sat "in the Gods passing sentence on the criminal fraternity".

  • Comment: Twitter ye not

Earlier the same day he wrote: "Just keeping up whilst I'm court deciding on sentence. Sad or what?"

Some of Prof Molyneux's comments

  • Awaiting court listing. Looks like I am hearing remand cases today. Hopefully interesting cases.

  • What a nightmare drive home last night. Five hours of torture. Sentencing in Ludlow all day today. A lot of motoring and shoplifting offences!

  • Home at last. What a day! Ludlow courthouse is ancient. We sit in the Gods passing sentence on the criminal fraternity.

  • Just keeping up whilst I'm court deciding on sentence. Sad or what.

  • Finished hearing bail. Three refused for planning robbery of £480,000 from TSB in Dawley, Telford.

  • First defendant. Conspiracy to rob TSB of £500,000. Good start - wrong previous convictions presented.

  • Just about to hear application from three robbers from Manchester as to whether to remand or not.

  • Called into court today to deal with those arrested last night and held in custody. I guess they will be mostly drunks but you never know.

  • I have resigned after 16 years as a Magistrate due to my policy of wanting to report outcome of cases to the public on Twitter.

  • All I mentioned what the same that was said in Open court. A fellow magistrate thought it was unethical and complained.

The posting which landed him in hot water, however, and led to his resignation as a magistrate concerned a bail application he dealt with for three men accused of robbing Lloyds TSB in Dawley.

Prof Molyneux, who lives in Oakengates and signs himself Profontheprowl on the Twitter site, wrote: "First defendant. Conspiracy to rob TSB of £500,000. Good start – wrong previous convictions presented."

He added later: "Finished hearing bail. Three refused for planning robbery of £480,000 from TSB in Dawley." A fellow magistrate discovered the 54-year-old's Twitterings and complained.

The matter was passed to Glyn Parry, chairman of the Telford bench.

Prof Molyneux then went on a lecture tour of the United States, but returned to find a letter informing him that the matter had been passed to the Shropshire Justices Advisory Committee.

He handed in his resignation after learning how far things had gone. He said: "I did nothing wrong, I did nothing illegal. I didn't mention any names or write about anything in the retiring room. All I wrote was in the public domain already."

Prof Molyneux said his mention of "the Gods" was a reference to the architecture of Ludlow court where the magistrates sit very high up, and stressed no "Tweeting" was done in court.

In a message to Shropshire Star readers he said: "I believe that everyone overreacted – time for you to decide on what I did was wrong or not."

Neither Mr Parry nor anyone from the Shropshire Justices Advisory Committee was available to comment today.

By Simon Hardy

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