Senior Sheffield judge criticises audacious defendant who refused to attend plea hearing because he had prison visitor ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A senior Sheffield judge has hit out at a defendant on remand who refused to attend his plea hearing because someone was visiting him in prison.

By Sarah Marshall
Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 6:34 pm
Judge Peter Kelson QC
Judge Peter Kelson QC

The defendant, who is accused of a number of offences including affray and assaulting an emergency worker, did not appear for his scheduled plea hearing in front of Judge Peter Kelson QC at Sheffield Crown Court this morning.

His barrister, Andrew Swaby, said the 20-year-old would not be attending the hearing via video link from HMP Doncaster because he had a 'domestic visitor'.

Judge Kelson told the court he was 'fed up' with inmates choosing not to attend court hearings, and said the defendant and those in the prison service who had allowed him to choose a prison visit over his plea hearing had 'insulted the court'.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

"The public, hearing the bare-faced cheek of this, would not believe their ears," said Judge Kelson.

He added: "To attend a domestic visit rather than a court hearing, it's just unbelievable."

Mr Swaby acknowledged that his client was 'not helping himself' with his actions, but asked whether it would be possible for the hearing to be adjourned to next week.

Judge Kelson said he would not grant an adjournment, and said he wanted the defendant to appear in front of him today.

He ordered for the case to be stood down, while attempts are made for the defendant to attend court this afternoon via video link.

The defendant has not been named because he has not yet entered any pleas, and as such, may have a trial by jury at a later date.

Under the Contempt of Court Act 1981, a publisher can be held in contempt of court if they 'publish material which creates a substantial risk of serious prejudice' to potential jury members.

As a result, the defendant will be identified if he enters guilty pleas or if he is convicted of the offences he has been charged with.