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Judge rapped for 'slappers' comment

Canterbury Crown Court, where Judge Timothy Nash made his comments
Canterbury Crown Court, where Judge Timothy Nash made his comments

A judge who told three female robbers they had behaved like a "bunch of over-the-hill slappers" has been warned about his use of language.

Judge Timothy Nash made the comment to Melanie Coombs, Lorraine Hallett and Alison Raines who robbed a 31-year-old homeless alcoholic in Canterbury city centre.

But Mr Justice Henriques sitting at the Appeal Court said: "We simply cannot endorse those words."

The judge, sitting with Lady Justice Hallett and Judge Peter Rook, QC, added: "We believe that it was a well-intentioned attempt to speak to these women in direct language in an attempt to shock them out of the wretched lifestyle they had adopted.

"It was, however, in error."

The Appeal Court cut the trio’s sentence, passed by Judge Nash, of three years in prison to two years and three months.

Judge Nash had jailed homeless Coombs, 39, Hallett, 37, of Union Street, Canterbury, and Raines, of Ladysmith Grove, Whitstable, in May.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how they had spotted alcoholic James McCabe slumped on a bench.

Hallett sat on one side while the other two tried to take his wallet from his back pocket. Hallett was then seen to punch Mr McCabe several times about the head and upper body and aimed a kick at his face. Raines took the wallet and they left.

All three admitted robbery.

But Mr Justice Henriques said Judge Nash’s sentences were too long given their guilty pleas.

All three women "faced considerable difficulties in their lives but have unhappily not responded well to them", the appeal judge said.

He also noted their progress behind bars where Raines, in particular, has been praised for her "polite" demeanour.

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