Defendant mocked ruling on Facebook
A crown court judge has castigated a teenage defendant for mocking his judgment in a Facebook posting.
Judge Neil Ford QC, the Recorder of Bristol, lambasted Liam Cunliffe, 18, for boasting on the social networking site about escaping a manslaughter charge over the death of 80-year-old Pauline Reddick.
Mrs Reddick died from a stroke just hours after he and Louis Corbett, also 18, ransacked her semi-detached home in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol.
Cunliffe, of Weston-super-Mare, bragged online minutes after the court ruling last month that they would not face charges relating to her death, writing: "Liam Cunliffe is a happy bunni. All i can say DROPPED!! YAA. I'm only lookin at six months. Haa. Bring it on. Easy!"
Sentencing Cunliffe and Corbett to 27 and 24 months respectively in young offenders institutions at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Ford ruled that there was not enough medical evidence to prove the "terror" of their raid had caused Mrs Reddick's stroke and that they would be jailed for straightforward burglary.
But he told the court the comments, disclosed by the media, were an extra "dagger through the heart for the bereaved".
Cunliffe and Corbett, from Weston-super-Mare at the time of the burglary but who since moved to Penzance, Cornwall, broke into Mrs Reddick's home as part of a burglary spree on several houses in the dead of night.
They fled empty-handed in the act after they were over-heard by the elderly lady, who thought it was her daughter. Hours after the break-in in August last year, Mrs Reddick, who had a history of high blood pressure when in stressful situations, died at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.
The pair, who admitted the break-in, were charged with manslaughter over her death but the charges were thrown out after Judge Neil Ford QC ruled they could not have known about her medical condition when they decided to burgle her.
The judge said the pair, who could be seen smirking and sharing a joke in the dock as the court heard conflicting expert medical opinions about the impact of the burglary on Mrs Reddick's death, would not be sentenced with a view to their actions having played a part in it, because there was not enough hard scientific evidence to link the symptoms of her stroke to the high blood pressure she was known to suffer at times of stress.