OAP who recorded court case freed
An 85-year-old man who was jailed for six months less one day for recording court proceedings has been freed by the Court of Appeal.
Three judges in London quashed the sentence imposed on Norman Scarth in July for contempt of court and substituted one of 12 weeks less one day, resulting in his immediate release from Armley prison in Leeds.
The decorated Royal Navy veteran, who followed the proceedings in London by video link, said "Thank you my lord" as Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting with Mr Justice Wilkie and Mr Justice Holroyde, announced the decision.
The appeal judges had heard evidence about Mr Scarth's mental health.
Lord Justice Pitchford said: "Having had the benefit of information about the background, which was not available to the judge and could not have been since Mr Scarth refused to take part, we are quite satisfied that the public interest is not served by the continued imprisonment of this 85-year-old man without in any way reflecting upon the correctness of the decision made by the judge at the time."
The appeal judges heard that Mr Scarth, of Anvil Court, Manningham, Bradford, used an audio camera concealed in a ballpoint pen to record proceedings at Bradford Crown Court on July 26 in which he was assisting a litigant.
Mr Scarth, who is hard of hearing, was frustrated about hearing exchanges and launched into a stream of abuse, particularly aimed at a female usher, when asked to show the court the pen.
Lord Justice Pitchford said Mr Scarth suffered from a delusional disorder, could be loud and argumentative, and was a conspiracy theorist. He said it is perfectly clear that the continued incarceration of Mr Scarth, who has always refused medication, is having a deleterious effect on his mental health.
"He is an unusual individual in that the nature of his personality disorder means that he is not one of those who is likely to see the error of his ways and, to use technical language, purge his contempt."
It was a serious contempt which would make a six-month sentence entirely appropriate in the case of a younger and fitter man, he added.